Investment

Scion of banking dynasty backs crypto exchange through investment group

The bloodbath for cryptocurrencies continues, but some billionaire investors and their family offices still like the asset class, particularly when it comes to crypto trading platforms, as this latest deal shows. 

Last week, Sao Paulo’s based investment group Profitus Participacoes invested $5 million into Digitra.com, a cryptocurrency trading platform that has ambitions to be a global player in the sector. How much of a stake Profitus is taking in Digitra hasn’t been disclosed. 

The deal with Profitus, owned by Ricardo Villela Marino and his wife Patricia Rieper Leandrini Villela Marino, represents a coming together of new finance with old finance

Digitra was set up by crypto-trading entrepreneur Rodrigo Batista, who founded Brazil’s first cryptocurrency exchange, Mercado Bitcoin, before selling it in 2019. 

Batista recently told the Brazilian media that he wants Digitra to compete with the biggest crypto trading platforms in the world, such as Binance and FTX, the latter founded by cryptocurrency trading guru Samuel Bankman-Fried. FTX was recently valued at $8 billion – although the current cryptocurrency bloodbath might have affected that valuation. 

The deal with Profitus, owned by Ricardo Villela Marino and his wife Patricia Rieper Leandrini Villela Marino, represents a coming together of new finance with old finance. 

Few scions of the financial world come with as much heritage as Ricardo Villela Marino. Described by Forbes as the Rothschilds of Latin America, the Marino family own a controlling stake in Brazil’s biggest bank, Itaú Unibanco. Ricardo Villela is the grandson of Eudoro Libânio Villela, who co-founded Brazilian bank Itau in 1945. The billionaire sits on the board of the bank. 

Ricardo Villela also is an advisor to the New York investment group Valor Capital, set up by Clifford Sobel, the former US ambassador to Brazil. Valor has been a prominent investor in fintech and blockchain/cryptocurrency platforms. Many of those deals have been in Brazil, which has a very active fintech and cryptocurrency sector. 

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