FTX Collapse Undermines Confidence in Crypto, Ripio’s CEO Says

Sebastián Serrano, CEO of the Argentine cryptocurrency exchange, says however that the crypto market will rebound in a year’s time

CEO of Ripio
November 10, 2022 | 07:01 PM

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Montevideo — FTX’s collapse has increased the intensity of the storm in the middle of the so-called crypto winter, with investors wondering when will the crypto market downturn end, and how will the cycle continue?

Sebastián Serrano, CEO of Argentine cryptocurrency exchange Ripio, one of the largest in Latin America, projects that the slump will not last beyond the end of this year however, and that from November 2023 the market will start to recover, and the next few months will be a time to garner an accumulation of value.

In a conversation on Wednesday night in Montevideo with Bloomberg Línea about the impact of the collapse of FTX and its liquidity problems, Serrano said what has occurred “is something quite serious for the industry” as it “undermines a lot of the confidence in the exchanges.”

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“FTX was a brand that had worked hard to be regulated and operate professionally. This affects the reputation of all exchanges, and I think there’s going to be a move to do have more testing of reserves and to carry out audits,” Serrano said.

The Ripio founder added that, like other companies in the market, his platform will conduct tests to prove reserves, to demonstrate solvency. “That will show who is doing well and who is not,” he said.

Ripio, which has most of its clients in Brazil and Argentina, sees closing 2022 with five million users, Serrano said during an event at its offices located in Montevideo’s World Trade Center Free Zone. The platform announced that it is preparing its launch in Chile, and that in the coming months it will issue a crypto card in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay, a product that has already been launched in Brazil.

The FTX-shaped hole

FTX faces a financial hole of up to $8 billion and an investigation by US authorities into its handling of its customers’ funds. As reported by Bloomberg, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried told investors Wednesday that the company would file for bankruptcy if it does not procure an injection of cash.

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Amid the liquidity crisis, crypto exchange Binance initially announced it would buy FTX, but then backed away from the acquisition. “Every time a major industry player fails, retail consumers suffer,” Binance said in a statement distributed by its press agents.

Crypto winter: how long will the storm last?

Asked about the value of cryptocurrencies, Ripio’s CEO said that the market “can drop even further” from the current level, although he set between now and the end of the year as the floor, and called the current stage one of “re-accumulation”, which he estimated will last a year.

“It is a market in which, due to the macro and deal average, it is correcting a lot, so it can go down much more than $20,000. But I do believe that, temporarily, we are close to the market’s floor. On the other hand, to go up, I think the ceiling of the next cycle is going to be much higher. We are easily going to be able to see bitcoin (XBT) at between $100,000 and $200,000, but much later, in 2024 or 2025″, he said.

Asked whether the floor could be $10,000, he said he does not see it dropping that low, but declined to put a figure on it. “What I’m more confident in is the timing. For me, we will see the market touch bottom before the end of the year”, he said.

Ripio’s crypto card in Uruguay, and its entry into Chile

Ripio is preparing to launch crypto cards in several Latin American countries in the coming months. The first market will be Argentina, where it is already in the testing phase. In other markets such as Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay and Chile, the projection is to do so in 2023.

Crypto cards were introduced into the Argentine market in 2021 and are gaining space as a mechanism to mitigate the impact of inflation. In the case of Uruguay, Ripio’s card is positioned to be the first crypto card in the market.

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Asked about the expected timing, Serrano said that the launch of the cards depends on “many things” that are “beyond the control” of the company, although the goal is that all the markets where the company is present will have this product during next year.

“Ideally by the middle of next year we want to have the full solution in all the countries we are in,” Serrano said.

Martín Benítez Aramendía, Ripio’s country manager in Uruguay, said the crypto card will work like other crypto cards, which are prepaid, with the user loading a certain amount of money onto the card and which is traded at the exchange rate of the cryptocurrency used.

In addition, Ripio is analyzing the use of cashback, returning to users, in crypto, a percentage of around 5% of the purchase value.

In Chile the exchange will launch with minimal operations and seek to grow its base, Serrano said.