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E-Commerce Giant Mercado Libre Introduces Cryptocurrency in Brazil, Plans Wider Latin America Use

·1-min read
Oscar Ordenes Rivera

This article is adapted from CoinDesk Brasil, a partnership between CoinDesk and InfoMoney, one of Brazil's leading financial news publications. Follow CoinDesk Brasil on Twitter.

Mercado Libre (MELI), Latin America’s largest e-commerce company by market cap, started rolling out its own cryptocurrency in Brazil, the firm said Thursday.

The currency, Mercado coin, can be used to make purchases on Mercado Libre and receive it as cash back on purchases, the company said.

Mercado Libre expects the cryptocurrency to be available to its 80 million users in Brazil by the end of August, and said it plans to introduce it in other countries “soon,” without providing further details.

Mercado Coin will be tradable on Mercado Pago, the company's digital wallet, at an initial price of 10 cents, which will be subject to market conditions, the company said.

Mercado Libre will operate its cryptocurrency in partnership with the crypto company Ripio, which will provide custody and trading services on Mercado Pago.

The cryptocurrency was developed using the ERC-20 token standard on the Ethereum blockchain, the company said. During the first stage, users will not be able to transfer it to external wallets.

“The blockchain technology behind Mercado coin allowed us to develop an open and extremely secure solution,” Guilherme Cohn, senior manager of corporate development, said in a statement. “We continue to follow the evolution of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, as we believe in the potential of these tools.”

In December, Mercado Libre launched a crypto trading feature in Brazil, which reached 1 million users two months later. The company has plans to launch the same product across Latin America.

This article was translated by Andrés Engler, and edited by CoinDesk. The original Portuguese can be found here.

UPDATE (August 18 19:18 UTC): Adds information about partnership with Ripio.