Latin America’s Leading Online Marketplace Turns to Bitcoin

MercadoLibre, one of the Latin America’s leading online marketplaces, has announced its plans to integrate Bitcoin into its payments platform MercadoPago.

The announcement arrived in an email to users, describing how MercadoLibre is working towards introducing innovative and easy payment methods for its customers. While stating that Bitcoin would keep its merchants’ “one foot in future”, the e-commerce marketplace promised transparency and speediness in its new payment option.

However, the mail shied away from mentioning the countries in which the Bitcoin payment button will be available. MercadoLibre currently has a presence in Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, and other Latin American nations. Interestingly, this region has been termed as “a dynamic hotbed” for Bitcoin businesses, considering its poor economic situations that are turning people away from using national currencies.

Being a currency based on a decentralized model, Bitcoin evidently emerges as a natural alternative to these debt-struck nations. The decision of MercadoLibre arguably comes at a time when people are looking for alternative methods — besides the US dollar — to conduct real-time trade settlements. Unlike its fiat counterpart, Bitcoin can be purchased, traded and sold easily.

Bitcoin Regulatory Hurdles

The story of Bitcoin can never be completed without political meddling. Despite its potentially strong foothold in Latin American nations, Bitcoin is still prone to facing some fascism in coming times. According to an article of Americas Quarterly, only 43 percent of the entire Latin American population is connected to the internet. And even the connected ones are termed as the worst countries in terms of Freedom of Net. A freedom of economy, therefore, seems like a distant topic.

It will take governments to stand up for Bitcoin to make its technology available to even the last man in the queue. But going by the recent ruling of Mexico, it seems the digital currency will have a hard time circumventing the governments before benefiting the local populations.

The same hard time is also reserved for MercadoLibre as it goes ahead with its plan to offer Bitcoin payment options in these countries.