The largest online commerce platform in Latin America, MercadoLibre, will allow its Brazilian customers to buy, sell and hold crypto using MercadoPago’s digital wallet. The company’s revenues through digital transactions rose during the pandemic, and it is now looking to expand its “financial inclusion” horizons.
Earlier in the year, the company had reported that 60% of their entire value comes from MercadoPago, its financial tech arm that has become a widely used method of payment in many Latin American countries during the pandemic.
Both Brazil and MercadoLibre have shown interest in cryptocurrencies for a long time, particularly in Bitcoin. Now, the company decides to act on the potential growth they see in the crypto market by allowing their Brazilian users to invest in it.
However, at the moment clients won’t be able to pay for MercadoLibre offered goods using cryptocurrencies. A “world-class custodian” has been announced, but its identity wasn’t specified.
MercadoPago vice president Tulio Oliveira stated during a Bloomberg interview: “We took the time to study and learn before deciding to step into crypto … This has a transformational potential ahead and opens up a new avenue for us.” They have long been compared to other online payment services like PayPal and Venmo and these new efforts live to that comparison.
The company operates in 18 Latin American countries, with Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil leading their net revenues. They aim to expand the crypto inclusion elsewhere in the continent, although further studies on legal requirements and restrictions will be needed.
Latin America Prefers MercadoPago
MercaLibre reported a great year-over-year growth in its third-quarter report. Their net revenues increased 73% to $1.9 billion led by Brazil, which generated over $1 million on its own. The entire ecosystem hit 78.7 million unique active users.
They also reported a 59% year-over-year increase in total payment volume through MercadoPago on an FX neutral basis, “almost topped $20.9 billion”. The quarter had a total of 865.7 million transactions, a 54.7% growth compared to 2020.
Chief Financial Officer of MercadoLibre Pedro Arnt commented on the press release:
As a result of what we believe to be these lasting contributions to financial inclusion and the democratization of commerce through an improved experience for our users, our volume growth rates continue to demonstrate a solid trajectory over the long term. … Moreover, we see our engagement and satisfaction improving sequentially for both commerce and fintech services,
Brazilians Already Choose Crypto
In 2021 Brazil’s residents had purchased over $4 billion in cryptocurrencies by October, the country’s central bank stated. As the country’s instability worries its citizens, many opt for cryptocurrencies as a store of value, leaving the days of storing cash behind.
According to a CoinPayments survey, Brazilian crypto users prefer to buy Bitcoin showing a 77% in volume within all crypto operations brokered by CoinPayments.
Earlier in the year, when MercadoLibre’s treasury bought $7.8 million in bitcoin to disclose it within their “indefinite-lived intangible assets”.
Back then, the company’s co-founder Marcos Galperin said to Bloomberg: “Crypto is going to be a major development, … People are trying to retain value and some of the cryptocurrencies will retain value by definition because they cannot be printed away or devalued.” Galperin’s view on the digital coin’s potential seems to fit Brazilians current reality.