In Colombia, individuals will soon be able to fund their bank accounts directly with crypto assets such as Bitcoin.
Arrangements with leading crypto firms are allowing more banking institutions to offer crypto services to their clients as part of Colombia's new regulatory sandbox.
Bancolombia, Colombia's largest bank, announced a deal with Winklevoss-owned crypto exchange Gemini that will allow Colombians to buy cryptocurrencies starting December 14.
A limited number of Bancolombia clients will have the ability to purchase Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, or Bitcoin Cash through their accounts as part of a pilot program that will last one year.
Colombia's financial regulator, the Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia (SFC),will oversee the program.
While Bancolombia will handle client funds in fiat, Gemini will provide the infrastructure for crypto exchanges and custody, whether for withdrawals, deposits, or the holding of assets.
The partnership is also a step toward expanding Gemini's presence in Latin America, said Cynthia Del Pozo, principal, strategy, and corporate development at Gemini. In partnership with the Colombian crypto ecosystem, "we are eager to assist Colombians who wish to get control of their finances," Del Pozo said.
The Bancolombia Group, which includes Banistmo, the biggest bank in Panama and Central America, Banco Agricola, the largest bank in El Salvador, and BAM, the largest bank in Guatemala, owns Bancolombia.
By December 31, 2020, according to its numbers report, the group had 17.8 million customers.
Out of 14 applicants, the SFC selected nine cryptocurrency exchanges to participate in the pilot.
Gemini was among the firms on the list, along with Binance and Bitso. Binance will work with Colombia's third-largest bank, Davivienda, and digital payments app Powwi, while Bitso will partner with Colombia's Banco de Bogota.