Unisend has officially expanded to Mexico and will launch trading in the market this evening via its new website Unisend.com.mx.
The Argentina-based bitcoin exchange's domestic bank accounts were suddenly closed earlier this August, a development that temporarily halted consumer deposits and bank transfers. However, it continues to serve the market as it seeks to more broadly expand its services in Latin America.
If Unisend's goal is to become a reference point for bitcoin trading across the region, as founder Pablo Esterson indicated in a conversation with CoinDesk, Mexico is the first step in its expansion plan, which includes Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Peru.
"We're looking forward to offering all our users an easy way to buy and sell bitcoins, always using local banks in order to keep competitive, quick withdrawals and deposit commission for local currencies," Esterson said.
"Our plan is to have a subsidiary company and a local bank account in all the countries where we are present and allow people to operate in our Latin America global platform using a local bank to withdraw and load funds."
Unisend said fees will be waived during the first few weeks after launch, and that registered users will receive a bonus for helping other users make their first trades.
Both those who refer new users who spend between Mex$1 and Mex$3,000 on the platform as well as those who spend this amount during the promotional period will receive a 1.5% bonus. Bonuses of 2.5% and 3% are also available to those who spend between Mex$3,000 and Mex$10,000 and more than Mex$10,000, respectively.
The exchange is open for money transfers and will integrate cash and credit card payments that enable people to buy bitcoin.
Banks vs payments solutions
Since the disruption of its banking resources this summer, the company has had to work with a payments solution provider in order to continue serving Argentina, making it harder for people to gain access to its tools and resources.
The team is now seeking to open up new bank accounts so it can increase its volume and provide a more stable service to its user base. Unisend partner José Rodriguez told CoinDesk that working with a local banking partner helps it reduce costs for users.
As a result, the company said its fees for bank-to-bank transfers within Mexico cost between US$0 and US$1 depending on the bank, a fee structure it believes gives it an edge to other payment solution providers like AstroPay, which charge between 2% and 5% of the total amount transferred.
Further, the exchange rate is higher than market price when exchanging from a local currency to USD or pesos.
"Its a solution but expensive for the user," Rodriguez added.
Regulation threat still looms
Rodriguez went on to tell CoinDesk that Mexican banking and securities authorities have cautioned Unisend, advising that, for the time being, "bitcoin operations, payments or exchanges will not be forbidden or regulated yet".
"We are complying with the suggestions they have made about documenting customers and reporting future suspicious activity. With banks and SHCP (the Mexican IRS), I have been transparent about our activity."
By contrast Argentina's postition towards bitcoin is still uncertain, neither supporting nor prohibiting companies like Unisend, Esterson said.
"That makes it a little hard for us to find financial institutions to support our operations, though we are still on our way to opening new accounts," he added. "In the meantime we are still operating with other payment options."
Global strategy, local approach
To begin, Unisend Mexico will operate on its own, independent of its Argentinean counterpart. However, Esterson said the company is working to integrate the two platforms into a global exchange for the whole of Latin America.
Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in Latin America and second most populous after Brazil, he added, citing such attributes along with the country's widespread access to the Internet as the main reasons to replicate Unisend's operations there first.
"With our launch in Mexico … people will have more opportunities to get into the bitcoin world, the bitcoin community will keep growing, the bitcoin industry gets reinforced and we get a large new market and expand our operations."
Images via Unisend and Shutterstock