In 2021, Latin America saw a soaring rise in crypto adoption among the 20 countries and 14 dependencies that make up the region.
A slew of conferences, associations, new regulations and nonfungible token (NFT) projects as well as the global bull market made last year an intriguing one for the region.
Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting developments in the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem in Latin America in 2021.
Colombian financial firms partner with crypto exchanges
Early in 2021, the Financial Superintendence of Colombia authorized several partnerships between banking institutions licensed in the nation’s financial system and cryptocurrency exchanges.
The nine partnerships included major names from the cryptocurrency industry such as Binance and Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss’ Gemini.
The regulator said that these approvals were made within a regulatory sandbox for testing technological solutions in the world financial market and will have a trial period of up to one year.
Crypto recognition in Latin America
In 2021, the rapid growth of digital currencies led some Latin American countries to officially recognize their use as a payment instrument, despite their reputation for volatility. El Salvador’s official recognition of Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender — a world-first — made waves not only in Latin America but across the world.
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s Bitcoin Law was approved by a majority vote in the country’s representative body, the Legislative Assembly, and came into effect in September.
In August 2021, Cointelegraph reported that the Central Bank of Cuba was expected to recognize cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Tether (USDT) for commercial transactions and investments.
The president of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru, Julio Velarde, announced in November that the nation will partner with the central banks of India, Hong Kong and Singapore to develop its own central bank digital currency.
Blockchain events in 2021
As a result of lockdowns and subsequent confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic, many blockchain companies and organizations reevaluated their strategies and took to cyberspace to meet up and attend conferences.
Blockchain Summit Latam
The Blockchain Summit Latam conference is considered to be one of the most important crypto events in Latin America, promoting the crypto and blockchain ecosystem in the region. In September 2021, its 5th edition hosted 100 expert speakers from the broader ecosystem.
Over five days, more than 60 virtual spaces hosted seminars and discussions focused on blockchain technology. The topics included infrastructure and applications, the Ibero-American ecosystem, business, decentralized finance, blockchain in the traditional financial system and more.
In November 2021, the ninth edition of the Spanish-speaking Latin American Bitcoin and Blockchain Conference, also known as LaBitConf, was held. The conference combined face-to-face and virtual meetings, and the agenda featured more than 150 industry experts giving more than 40 presentations on topics such as Bitcoin mining, the future of exchanges in Latin America, regulation, and privacy and security, among others.
Cripto Latin Fest
In December, the fourth edition of Crypto Latin Fest combined online and in-person meetings over two 14-hour days featuring talks and seminars with experts in the cryptocurrency space.
Notable individuals from the crypto ecosystem in Latin America — such as José Rodríguez, director of Blockchain Land at Talent Land, and Elian Huesca, community lead for Latin America at Bitso — covered topics such as blockchain, stablecoins, cybersecurity, legality, DeFi and crypto adoption.
The massive Spanish-language Blockchain Land conference — presented by the same company that produced Talent Land Latinoamerica — launched for the first time in 2020 and was broadcast simultaneously in the Decentraland and Cryptovoxels metaverses.
The event, held in April, was one of the largest Spanish-speaking events and was considered to be the most innovative, as it was broadcast simultaneously in two virtual worlds existing on the Ethereum blockchain where the users could interact, speak and network.
NFT boom in Latin America
Last year, nonfungible tokens took off in Latin America and around the globe.
In September, Argentine NFT marketplace SeSocioNFT opened up shop, promoting and selling pieces from Latin American artists. The platform reportedly plans to adapt pieces created by various artists into NFTs so that they can then be sold on the marketplace.
The NFT boom led to the first digital art gallery in Ecuador, NFTs Exhibition UIDE hosted at the International University of Ecuador. The gallery was open from Nov. 24 until Dec. 23 and displayed around 40 works by four Ecuadorian artists and 15 foreigners, valued at $160 million in total.
A collective of Venezuelan artists known as La Tokenia, inaugurated their NFT exhibition on the Tezos network in December.
Meanwhile, in November, the Colombian government signed a mining contract with the National Mining Agency that was registered as NFT on the Ethereum-compatible GoChain blockchain.