While in the United States it is possible to buy a car or an apartment using Bitcoin – a peer-to-peer digital cash system –, the technology is expanding at a relatively slow pace in Brazil. There are about 202 bitcoin-accepting merchants across Brazil, with 62 of them concentrated in the city of Aracaju, in Northeastern Brazil. The first Bitcoin ATM has just been released and is operating in São Paulo’s Avenida Paulista.
Last week, Santander, Spain’s largest bank, published a report saying “Yes to Bitcoin in Brazil.” According to the report, however, payment system companies – the ones that do card machines – may be negatively affected, as their entire business model will be challenged. However, credit card brands should win from the adoption of bitcoin in Brazil, as transaction fees should get lower.
Although Santander believes that the broad adoption of Bitcoin is a long term, they acknowledge that “long term” in technology can sometimes go by in a flash.
Bitcoin in Brazil
The value of the Bitcoin has rapidly increased in Brazil. It is now worth approximately 2,000 Brazilian Reais (around $606), the double of its value one year ago. Volume in trades has increased in the past months. In June, more than $91 million were traded during one single week. During 2015, $10 million were traded. According to Mercado Bitcoin, Brazil’s largest broker of the digital currency, most of it comes from speculative investments – with users betting on the rise of the Bitcoin value.
Nevertheless, the use to pay for services has increased in the past months. It is particularly used to pay for services contracted abroad. Bitcoin allows users to avoid the suffocating taxes to send money abroad.