In the bohemian neighborhood of São Paulo, Vila Madalena, young fintech entrepreneurs have occupied a three-story building known as the “cryptocurrency house.”
One such A cryptocurrency hedge fund, Atomic Fund, has joined the many technology startups in what is still South America’s most prominent financial hub. And it looks like Atomic at just the right time.
The number of investors trading on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange numbers around 619,000 total traders. Bitcoin investors alone, however, offer more than double that figure. The pioneer currency also stands far apart from any other digital currency speculation.
In a country that has suffered hyperinflation on several occasions, both the banks and the populace are primed for bigger picture thinking on virtual currencies. Some of the biggest players in private banking are thus prioritizing blockchain research and expertise.
Three of the biggest Bitcoin exchanges, Foxbit, Mercado Bitcoin and Bitcambio are also hosted in São Paulo and have grown in spite of local banking obstruction.
A digital currency investment adviser at XP Investimentos, Fernando Ulrich, pointed to the approximately $38 million in bitcoin that constituted daily trade in February.
“That’s more than the entire year’s worth of Bitcoin trades in 2016 in Brazil [around R$115m]. There’s been a tremendous influx of new users.”
Kenzo Tominaga, the Atomic Fund founder, was frank in his appraisal that citizens are skeptical and looking for financial alternatives.
“Brazilians do not trust their government and have a tendency to adopt technology trends quickly,” he said, adding “Cryptocurrencies are rebelling against the established [financial] system and are born out of the internet — that’s why they’re really catching on here.”
His three co-founders all call themselves ‘anarchist-capitalists.’ All four have asset management, fintech or banking backgrounds and feel that they are operating in an environment intolerant of bureaucracy and compelled to be creative, even when it comes to currency.
The Millennial Revolution and Brazil
High unemployment amid a prolonged return to a thriving economy was ready and waiting just as millennial students graduated and entered the job market.
For many, prospects have never been good, and the incoming workforce turned to digital entrepreneurship. Co-founder Piero Ganciarates noted too that “[Any] escape from government control and paperwork [is] super attractive.”
More than a few startups are reaping the rewards too. The second-largest exchange in Brazil, Foxbit, is celebrating the influx of new money and interest.
CEO Guto Schiavon explains that after a year, the exchange now occupies new premises, a move necessitated by the need to accommodate 80 total employees.
Foxbit also hosts around 400,000 clients and accounted for almost half of the traded $1.1 billion in Bitcoin in 2017, just under half the $2.14 billion total for the country as a whole.