Citigroup: Brazil Leads the Way in Digital Money Initiatives in Latin America

By Ergim Truefen
Published in News
May 01, 2024
2 min read
Citigroup: Brazil Leads the Way in Digital Money Initiatives in Latin America

According to a recent report by Citigroup Inc., Brazil stands out as a leader in digital finance across Latin America. What sets Brazil apart? It’s a mix of solid government support, a rich array of payment options, and a population eager to embrace digital solutions. Alongside Chile, Brazil leads the charge in digitalization, with Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia following closely behind.

Citi’s research also highlights Brazil’s imminent adoption of its central bank digital currency (CBDC), “Drex”, formerly known as the “digital real”. CBDCs serve as digital representations of fiat currency, reflecting central banks’ efforts to stay competitive amidst crypto’s growing influence. Stay tuned for our article on this subject.

In an August 2023 statement, the Brazilian Central Bank unveiled plans for “Drex”, aiming to streamline citizens’ lives and foster a secure, regulated environment for new businesses. They explained that “Drex” is a play on letters, with “D” and “R” symbolizing the digital era, while “E” represents electronic, and “X” indicates modernity and connection, alongside DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) implementation.

During a recent interview with the economic newspaper Valor, Driss Temsamani, Director of Digital Business for Latin America at Citigroup Inc., had this to say:

“The Brazilian population is quick to adopt new technologies and is poised for innovation. Brazil has built the right infrastructure, stakeholders have adapted, innovated, and implemented solutions, and adoption has been swift. By bridging with the traditional financial system, we can boost deposits and loans, which can drive economic growth”.

Temsamani also underscores that fiat currency is “insecure, costly, and out of sync with the business dynamics of the digital era”, advocating a shift away from it. Citigroup report also references Harvard Business Review (HBR), which anticipates CBDCs to slash payment management expenses, potentially saving up to $750 billion annually.


As reported by Agência Brasil, “Drex” is slated for release by the end of 2024. By August 2023, it had already started pilot testing, with 16 entities handpicked to participate. During this period, Mauricio Moura, Director of Institutional Relations, Citizenship, and Conduct Supervision at Brazil’s Central Bank, remarked:

“Drex will improve the speed, convenience, and affordability of numerous contractual and financial transactions we engage in today”.

Moura also touched upon the longstanding barriers to transaction settlements, especially in sectors such as automotive and real estate purchases. He hinted at integrating “Drex” with services that automate many tasks through smart contracts.

“Drex’s programming downplays who takes the first step in a transaction. The contract is only finalized when both conditions are met, enabling simultaneous transfer of funds and property. That’s what really matters”.

The Rise of CBDCs

To date, 134 countries are involved in CBDC development. According to the Atlantic Council researchers, three nations -the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Nigeria- have already launched their CBDCs. Additionally, 36 projects are in the pilot phase, and 30 are already in full development… Two projects -Ecuador and Senegal- have been canceled.

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