Crypto exchange 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 news follows similar moves from rival exchanges, including Crypto.com peer-to-peer platform Localbitcoins. The integrations come as the Central Bank of Brazil published preliminary guidelines for its central bank digital currency (CBDC) earlier this week, on May 25. Central banks across countries are exploring CBDCs actively.
Brazil’s CBDC will operate as an extension of the physical currency.
The Central Bank of Brazil’s announcement emphasizes that the CBDC will operate “as an extension of the physical currency” and is intended to improve the retail payment system, foster new business models, and bolster Brazil’s participation in regional and global trade through increasing the efficiency of cross-border transactions. Research into a CBDC was authorized as part of a broader move from the central bank to modernize the country’s payments sector, including the launch of PIX in November 2020. The guidelines were compiled by a working group established to explore a CBDC in August 2020.
Brazil hopes to have developed its CBDC by 2022.
The Central Bank of Brazil has previously indicated it hopes to have developed its CBDC by 2022. With the president of the Central Bank of Brazil, Roberto Campos Neto, previously emphasizing the role of PIX in supporting its CBDC ambitions through providing “an instant payment system that is efficient and interoperable,” the BCB’s response to PIX being adopted by offshore cryptocurrency exchanges remains to be seen. Last year the BCB suspended WhatsApp Pay to investigate risks posed to the competitive environment of its payments sector, with the suspension coming just months after the central bank revealed PIX as a response to the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies.