Mercado Libre taps Circle to launch USDC in Chile

Circle, the issuer of the second-largest stablecoin by market capitalization, has entered into a partnership with Argentine e-commerce giant Mercado Libre (MELI) to introduce USDC to users in Chile.

Mercado Libre

The collaboration will enable more than 2 million users of Mercado Pago, the digital payments wallet of Mercado Libre, in the country to access and utilize the USDC stablecoin for payments and savings.

Mercado Pago also partnered with Latin American fintech Ripio to be the go-to destination for Chileans interested in getting into cryptocurrency. Both companies jointly developed and launched Mercado Coin, an Ethereum ERC-20 token, which is also available to local traders.

“The US dollar is one of the most stable currencies in the world and a simple vehicle to ensure wealth preservation amidst general uncertainty. With the launch of this stablecoin we seek to diversify access to cryptocurrencies and offer the more than two million Mercado Pago users an alternative that matches the value of the dollar,” said Matías Spagui, Senior Director of Mercado Pago.

“Latin America is emerging into an epicenter for the digital economy with flourishing innovation and enthusiasm about digital dollars,” said Rachel Mayer, VP of Product at Circle. “Working with Mercado Pago to offer USDC to Chile users is a pivotal step in providing more accessible digital financial solutions to enable global participation in this new era of finance.”

After years of court battles in Chile, cryptocurrency exchanges were allowed to open bank accounts through a financial institution that established a protocol to serve these businesses. Chile’s central bank also announced last year a strategy for the potential roll-out of its own digital currency as policymakers seek to keep pace with fast-spreading cryptocurrencies.

Mercado Pago, reportedly the largest online payment platform in Latin America, initially launched its crypto trading service in December 2021 in Brazil.  Further, in November 2022, it entered the Mexican market, where it says the first month of operation brought as many as 150 thousand users to the app.

Now, Mercado Pago is looking for a similar bump in Chile as the e-commerce platform proceeds with its gradual rollout in what the company’s President Osvaldo Gimenez calls “aggressive growth”.

The move comes after Coinbase has bought an equity stake in Circle, though they decided to dissolve the Centre Consortium, a private organization governing the USDC stablecoin. Coinbase laid out its strategy to build a tech hub in Latin America. Following this acquisition, Coinbase said its next steps will be to expand outside of Brazil, hopefully finding acquisitions in Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Argentina.