Cryptocurrency exchange Gemini will soon offer frictionless bitcoin trading in Colombia for customers of the country’s biggest bank, Bancolombia, the company said in a statement Monday. However, it is unclear whether users will be able to withdraw funds — a vital feature for achieving the financial sovereignty that Bitcoin enables.
The partnership is part of a government-sponsored pilot program. It will launch on December 14, giving an initial cohort of Bancolombia customers a seamless on and off-ramp to trade BTC through the exchange.
“The partnership also serves as an important step toward the strategic expansion of Gemini’s presence in Latin America,” Cynthia del Pozo García, Gemini’s principal of strategy and corporate development, said in the statement. “We look forward to working closely with the Colombian crypto ecosystem and to supporting crypto products that empower Colombians to take control of their financial lives.”
The Colombia government launched a one-year pilot program through the country’s financial regulator, Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia (SFC), to bring bitcoin and cryptocurrency services to citizens in a more straightforward fashion.
“Crypto is borderless by nature, and we are committed to expanding crypto access to individuals across the globe,” del Pozo García added.
Bancolombia is part of the Bancolombia Group, a holding company that also owns Banistmo, the largest bank in Panama and Central America; BAM, from Guatemala; and Banco Agricola, which serves customers in El Salvador. The group had 17.8 million customers as of December 31, 2020, according to its numbers report.
In January, the SFC announced it had chosen nine cryptocurrency exchanges out of 14 applicants to participate in the pilot. In addition to Gemini, the list included Binance and Mexican firm Bitso. Binance is set to partner with the third-largest bank in Colombia, Davivienda, and digital payments app Powwi, while Bitso will collaborate with Banco de Bogotá.