The ‘eBay of Latin America’ Announces Bitcoin Plans

Grace Caffyn
Sep 29, 2015 at 09:39 UTC
Updated Sep 30, 2015 at 04:12 UTC
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MercadoLibre, Latin America’s answer to eBay, has announced it is integrating bitcoin into its payments platform, MercadoPago.

In an email to users, the marketplace said the initiative would keep its merchants “one foot in the future”.

The region has been tipped as a hotbed for bitcoin as users seek alternatives to their local currency, and easier ways to pay online. However, startups still have various hurdles to overcome.

It’s not yet clear when the roll out will occur, nor which of MercadoLibre’s 13 countries will be supported.

According to the company, the integration will be subtle – merchants will only know they have been paid in the digital currency via a note in their transaction history.

Like any other transaction, they will be able to cash out from MercadoPago in the payment method of their choice.

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Founded in 1999, MercadoLibre is the largest e-commerce platform in the region – last year, it exceeded 120 million users, reporting revenues of $556.5m.

The company was first linked to bitcoin when its former R&D director, Rodrigo Benzaquen, joined the board of Uruguayan bitcoin startup Moneero last September.

Aptly, eBay is the firm’s biggest investor, owning over 18% the company’s total public stock following a deal in 2001.

eBay CEO John Donahoe has repeatedly hinted at the company’s interest in bitcoin over the past two years, though it is yet to take action.

Ebay’s former subsidiary, PayPal, began trialling the currency through its Payments Hub last year.

Shopping image via Shutterstock