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Brazil’s PIX rapid payments system has been integrated by OKEx, Crypto.com, and LocalBitcoins.
PIX, Brazil’s immediate payments infrastructure, is being used by an increasing number of offshore bitcoin exchanges.
On May 28, OKEx announced a strategic partnership with local payments firm CuboPay, allowing it to facilitate Tether ($USDT) purchases in exchange for Brazilian real via PIX.
The integrations come as the Central Bank of Brazil, or BCB, published preliminary guidelines for a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, on May 25.
The CBDC will work “as an extension of physical currency,” according to the release, and is meant to enhance the retail payment system, encourage new business models, and strengthen Brazil’s involvement in regional and global commerce by enhancing the efficiency of cross-border transactions.
The study of a CBDC was permitted as part of a larger effort by Brazil’s central bank to modernize the country’s payments system, which includes the introduction of PIX in November 2020. The recommendations were developed by a working committee formed to investigate the possibility of establishing a CBDC in August 2020. The BCB has previously said that it intends to have completed the CBDC by 2022.
With the Central Bank of Brazil’s president, Roberto Campos Neto, recently emphasized the significance of PIX in supporting its CBDC objectives by offering “an instant payment system that is efficient and interoperable,” the BCB’s reaction to PIX adoption by offshore cryptocurrency exchanges remains to be seen.
The BCB halted WhatsApp Pay in June 2020 to study vulnerabilities to the competitive environment of its payments business, barely months after the central bank announced PIX as a response to the rising popularity of crypto assets.
With WhatsApp Pay having only resumed Brazilian operations earlier this month, a crackdown on the use of PIX to access crypto assets may still be a possibility.