MercadoLibre, a Latin American e-commerce giant with a presence in nearly 20 countries, recently started warning users that cryptocurrency-related listings…
MercadoLibre, a Latin American e-commerce giant with a presence in nearly 20 countries, recently started warning users that cryptocurrency-related listings will be banned from its platform. The company made the announcement just days after receiving a $750 million investment from PayPal.
The e-commerce retailer’s move comes as it also cracks down on pre-paid cards and digital currencies used in games. The measure will take effect from March 19 onward, according to an email the company has been sending its vendors.
In the email, MercadoLibre notes that the vendor has listings related to cryptocurrencies or pre-paid cards for games and asks them to finalize them as soon as possible, as they’ll be automatically dropped on March 19.
Local news outlet Criptomoedas Fácil reports that in Brazil alone – one of the 18 countries MercadoLibre serves – there are over 5,630 bitcoin-related ads and over 9,320 cryptocurrency-related listings. Ripple (XRP), reportedly the most popular cryptocurrency on the Latin American platform, appears in more than 11,100 ads.
Last year, a bitcoin wallet and merchant processing service called Ripio entered a partnership with MercadoLibre, so the platform could allow its users to withdraw received funds directly in bitcoin. Both MercadoLibre and Ripio are Argentine firms.
Why the e-commerce retailer is dropping cryptocurrency-related listings is currently unclear. Platforms that have banned ads and products related to the crypto space in the past pointed to various reasons revolving around fraud, potential illicit activities, and user security.
Notably, the e-commerce giant has recently raised $1.85 billion to boost its investment in logistics and invest in fintech and payment solutions. The company’s main market, Brazil, has been under pressure thanks to Amazon's presence in the region.
According to Bloomberg, MercadoLibre raised that massive amount of capital through a public share offering and through direct investments from companies that included PayPal Holdings.
The e-commerce firm reportedly made a $1 billion offering of common stock, priced at $480 a share, making it one of the largest equity sales an Argentine firm has made in the past ten years. At the time, bids for the sale surpassed $6 billion, helping its stock rise nearly 5% to trade at over $500. Since then, it has dropped to $488.
The sale saw PayPal agree to make a $750 million strategic investment in the company, while an affiliate of Dragoneer Investment Group was set to purchase $100 million of perpetual convertible preferred stock.
Sean Summers, MarcadoLibre’s chief marketing officer, claimed at the time that the firm’s investors have a “sense that Latin America is at a tipping point in terms of e-commerce growth.” The funds the company raised are to be used on its largest markets – Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina – and will be split evenly among e-commerce and fintech.
While PayPal itself won’t participate on the Argentine giant’s board or take an active role in its day-to-day operations, it started having meetings with it to “work together on best practices in financial technology.”
"This deal opens the door to communication channels between our operations teams. We’re going to identify collaboration areas, to understand how PayPal’s global know-how best complements MercadoLibre’s regional know-how."
Before the funding round, MercadoLibre had already started increasing the use of online payments through QR codes and mobile devices. While it isn’t clear whether PayPal was directly involved in the Argentine firm’s move to bar crypto sales, analysts have in the past claimed bitcoin is “potentially disruptive” to its business model.
Last modified (UTC): March 16, 2019 8:25 AM