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ISTANBUL: Turkish blockchain technology company Bitci aims to open a cryptocurrency trading platform in Brazil in February in an international expansion where Spain is next in line, Chief Executive Onur Altan Tan said in an interview.

Founded in 2018 in the resort town of Bodrum in southwest Turkey, Bitci operates a cryptocurrency exchange, a mining facility and a blockchain network linked to its exchange and payment platform.

It also offers fan tokens, a type of cryptocurrency embraced by some soccer clubs as coronavirus pummelled their revenues. Bitci hopes a Brazilian exchange will build on its tie-ups with soccer clubs there, Tan told Reuters.

"We are opening a crypto exchange in Brazil because we have valuable assets there. We have released fan tokens of Brazil's national team and we have agreed with six other clubs," he said.

Bitci has launched 25 fan tokens for clubs, including the Spanish national team, English Premier League club Wolves and the Scottish Premiership's Rangers, as well as some for motor racing. It aims to have more than 50 tokens by year end.

Soccer clubs see such crypto assets as ways to generate new revenue and keep fans engaged. Token owners can vote on minor club decisions such as songs played after goals are scored.

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The tokens can also be traded on exchanges like other cryptocurrencies, and also can be prone to wild swings in price.

Bitci's exclusive rights to the tokens should be an opportunity to grow in Brazil, Tan added. "We aim to catch up to the local market leader in a very short time with the help of tokens ... We launch Brazil in February and then Spain in March."

Brazil's Mercado Bitcoin is one of Latin America's largest cryptocurrency exchanges with more than 3 million users.

Brazil's crypto market expanded rapidly last year with interest in assets as people tried to store value of savings during economic fallout from the pandemic. In January, the main stock exchange operator said it was aiming to expand its products and services for cryptocurrencies.

Last year, Turkish authorities banned the use of crypto assets for payments while some local exchanges were investigated for fraud. There has been a boom in usage of digital currencies in Turkey, fuelled by rising inflation and a lira slide.

Tan said after Brazil and Spain, Bitci plans to open cryptoexchanges in some countries in Central Asia, India and Russia this year.

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