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You should know about MercadoLibre, the $66B ‘Amazon of Latin America’

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October 21, 2020

Startups all over the world are increasingly trying to mimic China’s biggest tech players. MercadoLibre — a Latin American ecommerce powerhouse — is aping Alibaba’s style.

Over the past 2 decades, Alibaba took its ecommerce dominance in the Middle Kingdom and created Ant Group, a payments biz which is looking to go public at a valuation north of $200B.

Often called the “Amazon of Latin America,” MercadoLibre has leveraged its own payments arm (Mercado Pago) to a $66B valuation, ~3x its March lows.

Latin America is ripe for financial disruption

Half the region is unbanked — and 99%+ of the firms are small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMB), which operate more informally and have difficulty accessing credit.

Along with the rest of the world, Latin America’s economy had to go digital during the pandemic.

Mercado Pago — which offers digital wallets, debit cards, and QR payments — saw payments on its platform double in Q2. And, like Ant before it, the payments platform offers users investment options.

The digital change is here to stay

Pago’s head Osvaldo Gimenez tells Reuters that once people use its services, “there is no way back to lining up for 20 minutes to pay an electricity bill.”

Other Latin American fintech startups are getting in on the action include Ualá (Argentine mobile bank), dLocal (Uruguayan payments platform), and Nubank (Brazilian neo-bank).

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