What Happened: In June 2021, Berkshire Hathaway invested $500 million in Brazilian digital bank Nubank. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway added to its position in the digital bank when the company went public as Nu Holdings NU in December 2021.
For months, many have pointed to Nubank being a cryptocurrency friendly bank that could end up giving Buffett exposure to the trading of cryptocurrency. While Nubank is launching cryptocurrency trading of Bitcoin BTC/USD and Ethereum ETH/USD for its millions of users, the bank’s parent company is also allocating 1% of its cash to Bitcoin, according to a CoinDesk report.
Select users of Nubank can buy and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum as of last week. The trading platform is expected to be available to all users by the end of July. Additional cryptocurrencies are expected to be added to the platform in the future.
Nubank has offered several ETFs for its customers that gave investment exposure to cryptocurrency previously.
“There is no doubt that crypto is a growing trend in Latin America, one that we have been following closely and believe will have a transformational impact on the region,” Nubank CEO David Velez said.
Nubank has 53.9 million users in Brazil and several other Latin America countries.
Why It’s Important: Berkshire Hathaway owns a stake in Nu Holdings that is worth over $1 billion.
Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger have been outspoken critics of cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin.
Buffett famously called Bitcoin rat poison squared. Buffett told Berkshire shareholders that he wouldn’t buy Bitcoin even if it dropped to $25.
Munger also spoke out about Bitcoin at the annual shareholder conference.
“When you have your own retirement account, and your friendly advisor suggests you put all the money into bitcoin, just say no,” Munger said.
Through its wide range of investments, Berkshire Hathaway could have indirect exposure to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as more companies become crypto-friendly. Berkshire Hathaway is also a large shareholder in Visa Inc V, which gives Buffett partial ownership of a CryptoPunk NFT.
This article was originally published on May 14, 2022.
Photo: Created with an image from Aaron Friedman on Flickr