Bitso is a pioneering Mexican startup of the Bitcoin exchange that helps users transact. In May 2021, it became the second Mexican unicorn startup and the first unicorn in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
They received an investment of 250 million dollars from Tiger Global, Coatue, Paradigm, BOND, and Valor Capital Group. It is considered one of the most spectacular capital raising in the startup ecosystem in Latin America. Subsequently, the startup positioned itself as the third most valuable fintech in LATAM, valued at $2.2 billion.
What Is Bitso?
It is a Mexican platform for buying and selling nine cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Golem (GNT), True USD (TUSD), Decentraland (MANA) and DAI (DAI). Bitso is based in CDMX and operates in Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia.
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To expand the financial possibilities of Mexicans and Latin Americans, Bitso provides the following services through the exchange of BTC for MXN:
- Sending of remittances.
- Payment of services, such as rent, telephony, internet, electricity, etc.
- Online purchases.
- International money transfers.
- Access to investment.
- P2P payments.
Exchange Bitso promotes and facilitates the use of cryptocurrencies, thereby helping financial inclusion in Mexico. Approximately 150 establishments in Mexico like hotels, restaurants, boutiques, veterinarians, and recreational activities accept payments in cryptocurrencies.
- Discover new ways to use your money, explore Bitso.
Security, an Essential Element of any Fintech Company
Bitso guarantees security through the 2-factor authentication system. Firstly, it provides a unique number, similar to a bank token; this implies that no one can enter your account from another device, even knowing your password. Secondly, you can log in three different ways, depending on what your smartphone allows:
- Face recognition
In addition, transactions are only user-to-user, so they are not part of a blockchain, nor do they go through a third party.
Crypto Assets, Raising Capital, and Remittances
The accelerated demand for crypto-assets and financial products in LATAM fueled Bitso’s growth. They reached their first million users in six years, and the second million they got later in less than ten months. Further, users increased, and the volume of transactions carried out in the first quarter of 2021 exceeded those carried out in 2020 through the app.
Exchange Bitso has facilitated the transaction of 11.95 million Mexican pesos, an equivalent of 162 BTC, in one day.Bitcoin México
Along with this exponential growth, there is the raising of capital that the Bitso team managed to bring to the startup in October 2019 by Digital Currency Group and Pantera Capital (unknown amount). In February 2021, they raised $62 million with Kaszek Ventures and QED Investors. Moreover, their last round was in May 2021, with which they became the first unicorn in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Cryptocurrencies cover 6% of remittances sent weekly from the USA, which is approximately 715 million dollars. Between April 20 and 26, 2020, people sent more than 42 million dollars in cryptocurrencies to Mexico for remittances. These operations are gaining importance in the universe of foreign exchange that arrives in the country. Therefore, remittances are an essential service for Bitso in Mexico.
- Send your remittances easily and securely with Bitso
Expansion throughout Latin America
With the new funds, the Mexican exchange increased access to cryptocurrencies in Latin America, and today they also operate in Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. In addition, in the future, it plans to expand its operations in the rest of Latin America.
At Bitso, we believe that technology can transform lives around the world, especially in Latin America. The region is ready for disruption, and we want to do so by promoting financial inclusion for all.Daniel Vogel
The exchange focuses on growing its position in Brazil and Colombia and expanding its financial services. Consequently, it seeks to use all available crypto technology to make it accessible to anyone who would like to enter this world.
2.5 times more people invest in Bitcoin than on the Mexican Stock Exchange. On the other hand, the remittance market from the United States to Mexico is the largest in the world, with a volume of 30 billion dollars annually.
At first, they faced difficulties related to regulating economic technologies in Mexico. For this reason, from the beginning, they approached the authorities to promote the Fintech Law in the country.
Bitcoin, an Exchange Currency in El Salvador
In June 2021, Ecuador’s government approved the Bitcoin Law, which allows the legal tender of BTC. It is the first Central American country to recognize this crypto active as a legal exchange currency.
This new law opens new opportunities and more alliances to use cryptocurrencies as the purchase currency. The law indicates that all economic agents must accept bitcoin as a form of payment when offered to them.
Competitors in the Exchange Industry
Bitso is not alone in the exchange industry. Its biggest competitors are Kraken (San Francisco, California) and Invesco, an independent investment-focused company (Atlanta, Georgia).
Other fintech companies that can be considered competitors are Klarna (payment solutions), Nubank (digital bank), Ripple (platform for international transactions), and Square.
Attacking Financial Exclusion in Mexico
In 2011, Pablo González (CDO) discovered the existence of Bitcoin and an opportunity to implement this technology in the country. However, it was not until 2014 that, together with Ben Peters (CTO) and Daniel Vogel (CEO), they created Bitso, the first cryptocurrency transaction platform in Mexico.
They sought to solve a problem: financial exclusion. Bitso facilitates the sending of remittances (an activity of great importance in the Mexican economy), access to banking services, and lowers the cost of financial services.
Six out of ten Mexicans do not have bank accounts. Only 15% of Mexicans have a credit card, and the levels of financial exclusion in Mexico are comparable to Somalia.
The barriers to obtaining a credit card are very high for most Mexicans. Instead, the purchase of Bitcoin only requires the user to have a device with internet and a minimum of 100 pesos.
Currently, 64 million Mexicans have a smartphone with the internet, expanding the possibilities to enter the world of Bitcoin.
When you can give [people] access to a cryptocurrency account, you give them many financial tools. They can transact digitally and have better control over their money, that they can really interact internationally with people from other countries.Pablo Gonzalez
Be Part of the Team
Currently, the Bitso team leaders are co-founders Pablo González (Chief Design Officer), Ben Peters (Chief Technology Officer), and Daniel Vogel (Chief Executive Officer). Its growth and success are due to its co-founders and great experts in its team of engineers, lawyers, cryptographers, designers, financiers, and sociologists who create and make improvements so that the platform continues to be helpful to users.
For those passionate about technology who wish to be part of the team, Bitso has vacancies available for different areas in Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. Some are Content Designer and Visual Designer, Android Developers, and Java Software Engineer for engineering, among others, for financial, legal, and marketing. You can apply on LinkedIn.
How does Bitso Work, and What Are its Services?
If you want to start using the Bitso app or are curious about how it works, here is what you need to know before downloading it.
- Users: More than 2 million.
- 27,835,600 trading operations.
- 9,123,180 payments with local currency.
- 7,010,222 payments with crypto.
- Google Play rating: 4.3.
- App Store rating: 3.6.
You can buy, sell and transfer nine different cryptocurrencies. In addition, you can make utility payments, send remittances, shop online, and make international transfers. It would be best if you kept in mind that it is an exchange platform, not an investment platform.
Bitso app is available for download on devices with iOS and Android systems. You only need your email to register, and you can start operations with only 100 Mexican pesos that you can deposit to your account at OXXO stores or through SPEI.
Send or Receive Money
The app is simple, fast, and easy to use. To send or receive money, you share or capture a QR code containing all your data or that of the user with whom you want to make the transfer, which does not generate any commission.
Buying and Selling of Cryptocurrencies
Bitso has graphics, so you know the value of cryptocurrencies in real-time and buy the one that interests you the most. Users place buy and sell orders on the Bitso marketplace, where they are sold to other users looking to buy or sell. Buying is effortless. Follow these steps:
1. Log in to your account and check your wallet:
2. Fund your account: Deposit Mexican pesos into your Bitso account through SPEI Transfer or cash funding at Oxxo). The minimum amount of financing in SPEI is 50 Mexican pesos.
3. Make your Purchase: Get your BTC at Bitso at the best market price or with a purchase bid at a specific price (it may take some time to complete).
When you make deposits in cryptocurrencies, there is no commission, but when withdrawing, there is. It varies depending on the cryptocurrency. If you deposit in Mexican pesos, there is no commission, except when depositing at OXXO (commission 2.90% + VAT). To withdraw, you can do it via Bitso transfer, SPEI, to a debit card, or transfer to a cell phone at no cost.
Bitso Alpha version is another option to trade cryptocurrencies and deposit and withdraw 24/7. The applicable commission percentage depends on the volume that each user has transacted in the last 30 days. For example, we will use the base commission percentage: Maker commission 0.5% and Taker commission 0.65% for the MXN/BTC market.
The term «Maker» refers to traders who provide liquidity to either side of the book, buying or selling orders. They «make» the market by creating orders by committing their funds. Takers, on the other hand, «take» liquidity from the books by filling existing orders.
Sending of Remittances
Bitso’s new version offers the opportunity to deposit and send US dollars without commissions, making it easier to send remittances to Mexico. Usually, the process of sending remittances through cryptocurrencies is as follows:
- A user goes to the United States with a money transmitter (for example, MoneyGram) to send dollars to Mexico.
- The transmitter requests a transfer order with a digital platform (exchange) in that country.
- It buys XRP cryptocurrencies with the received dollars, sends them to Mexico; in a matter of seconds to the Bitso wallet, and sells them in the market to deposit, in pesos, to the money transmitter.
- The user collects his money in the country more easily and quickly and with lower commissions without dealing with cryptocurrencies.
Sending remittances through cryptocurrencies is faster (from days to minutes, reducing the exchange rate risk) and with lower commissions than traditional channels.
Bitso also has the option to create a business account with which you can send or receive payments from customers, employees, or suppliers in any currency handled within the platform.
Opportunities for Improvement in UX
Although Bitso offers relatively easy services, they still need to develop some features in the application to improve the user experience. Even though it is simple, it does not have an interactive guide showing how to navigate the app and its different functions, making it less intuitive. For now, you can find guides and tutorials to learn how to perform operations in the Bitso help section.
By focusing on a quick and easy application, they left out essential elements for its use. They need to be more precise and notify users of changes, updates, and details about the commissions they manage in certain operations.
Crypto and Financial Inclusion in Latam
Cryptocurrencies used to be unreachable for most Latin Americans. Now, startups like Bitso are a turning point for more people to access this technology. They make the use of crypto easier without having vast knowledge about it. It creates new opportunities for those seeking to improve their economy, allowing payments with cryptocurrencies in their establishments or businesses.
It is an exchange platform for buying and selling cryptocurrencies. In it, you can exchange nine different currencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Golem (GNT), True USD (TUSD). Decentraland (MANA) and DAI (DAI). You can send and receive money, send remittances and buy in some establishments.
It depends on the volume that each user has transacted in the last 30 days. For instance, we will use the base commission percentage: Maker commission of 0.5% and Taker commission of 0.65% for the MXN/BTC market.
Yes, it is. It has a 2-factor authentication system. They provide a unique number, similar to a bank token. No one can access your account from another device, even knowing your password. You can log in in three different ways depending on the quality of your smartphone:
* Face recognition
No, it does not. You can withdraw via Bitso transfer, SPEI to a debit card, or transfer to a cell phone at no charge.