Brazilians acquired $496 million in cryptocurrencies in August and have already acquired $4.27 billion so far in 2021, the country’s Central Bank (BCB) disclosed on Friday.

According to the Brazilian monetary authority, May was the peak of the cryptocurrency acquisition, with $756 million in purchases. Since then the figure dropped to $695 million in June and $583 million in July, but was still higher than in February and March. At that time $386 million and $357 million were acquired, respectively, Brazilian media outlet Portal do Bitcoin reported.

Doing a mark-to-market estimation, total digital assets held by Brazilians would add up to nearly $50 billion, compared to $16 billion held in U.S. stocks, BCB’s monetary policy director, Bruno Serra, said on Friday.

In August, BCB’s president, Roberto Campos Neto, said that Brazilians held about $40 billion in cryptocurrencies.

“It’s a very big business, it attracts the attention of regulators all over the world, it’s not just in Brazil,” he said.

According to Serra, Brazil’s monetary authority has a “very controlled foreign-exchange market” that allows it to be aware of crypto-related transactions. “We have foreign-exchange contracts for all transactions, 100% of them we are able to map,” he said.

As of August, the transfer of ownership of cryptocurrencies between residents and non-residents began to be disclosed by the Central Bank in the “Goods” part of the payments balance, Portal do Bitcoin reported., Cryptocurrencies are considered goods – or, non-financial and produced assets – following the International Monetary Fund’s recommended methodology.

According to Serra, crypto investing is a search for wealth diversification by investors. “I think this offshore diversification dynamic is a dynamic that may be here to stay. Diversification channels have opened up a lot. Foreign exchange regulations are loosening in this regard; it’s something we need to address,” he said.

“It’s a one-way flow. Because of the cost of energy, Brazil does not produce crypto assets. It is only an importer,” Serra added.