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SoftBank invests $200 mln in Latam cryptocurrency exchange

NEW YORK, July 1 (Reuters) - Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp has invested $200 million in Mercado Bitcoin, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in Latin America, said Roberto Dagnoni, executive chairman and chief executive officer of 2TM Group, the trading platform’s parent company.

The investment, raised in a Series B funding round, was made through SoftBank Latin America Fund and represents the Japanese multinational company’s largest investment in a Latin American crypto company. As a result of the investment, 2TM said its valuation reached $2.1 billion.

The SoftBank capital raise comes at a time when investor sentiment on cryptocurrencies has soured amid regulatory crackdowns in China, Britain and Japan. That has led to outflows from crypto investment products and funds the last few weeks.

Dagnoni, however, was unfazed by the current slump in cryptocurrencies.

“We are strong believers in the fundamentals of crypto,” Dagnoni told Reuters in a phone interview.

Mercado Bitcoin will use the funds to scale its operations, expand offerings, and invest in infrastructure to meet rising demand for crypto in the region, 2TM said in a statement.

“The platform is quite integrated. So custody is very important in releasing the power of the institutional market,” Dagnoni said in the interview.

“We’re also looking at regional expansions in Latam and expansions via M&A (mergers and acquisitions) as well,” he added.

Mercado Bitcoin, which launched in 2013, has grown significantly over the past year, with its client base reaching 2.8 million in 2021, more than 70% of the entire individual investor base in Brazil’s stock exchange, 2TM said.

Between January and May 2021, approximately 700,000 new customers signed up to use Mercado Bitcoin’s services, the company said. During the first five months of the year, trade volume at the crypto exchange also increased to $5 billion, surpassing the total for its first seven years combined. (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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