Attendees of the Mercado Libre Experience 2023, in São Paulo, on August 30. Isaac Fontana (EFE)
These are times of political upheaval in Latin America. Paraguay and Guatemala have voted for president in a year in which there are also elections in Argentina and Ecuador to elect new leaders, in addition to Colombia, where there are regional elections. But in the midst of a changing and polarized political map, two of the continent’s most successful entrepreneurs, the founder of the e-commerce platform MercadoLibre, Marcos Galperín, and the president of his fintech company, Mercado Pago, Osvaldo Giménez, believe that These changes in the political map do not put the firm’s investment in the region at risk.
On the contrary, faced with a cash payment scenario, with low banking coverage and access to credit, they believe that there is a great opportunity to strengthen trade and better democratize the financial system. In an interview in São Paulo, Brazil, within the framework of the Mercado Libre Experian 2023 event, Galperín and Giménez responded to Prisa Media’s questions about MercadoLibre, a company that plans to offer new services for Latin America that include free programming via streaming and new financial services that are opening in countries like Chile and Colombia.
With more than 108 million users and profits close to 262 million dollars in the last year, MercadoLibre processes 270 payments and 40 purchases per second, has more than 50,000 employees and 16,000 developers exclusively for Latin America.
One of the conferences given during the Mercado Libre Experience 2023. Isaac Fontana (EFE)
Ask. Latin America is experiencing electoral processes in several countries this year. How does this panorama affect the operation and planned investments of Mercado Libre in the region?
Marcos Galperin (MG). We have been in Latin America since 1999, so I would say that we are moving forward. We would feel strange if there were stability and consistent policies. We have been in Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Venezuela since that year and I think we have seen everything. We continue with our plans, in fact we have opened our distribution center in Colombia, we also continue to grow with Mercado Pago in several countries, we are coordinating our process to continue launching with products and new projects, just as we have been doing for the last 23 years .
Osvaldo Giménez (OG). Beyond the political changes that there may be, we are convinced that there is an opportunity to strengthen trade and we believe that the opportunity remains, that trade in Latin America could be much more efficient than it is, there are too many cash payments , few people are banked, that continues and we are sure that we are going to progress in the next decade in all the countries where we have a presence. It has been a year where we invested a lot in Chile, where we obtained the license last year, now we obtained the license in Colombia and Uruguay, so in the coming years we will be increasing the investment.
Q. Mercado Play will offer content services via streaming for free. What type of content and how will it be financially sustainable?
MG. Mercado Play is a unique place where you can access more than 6,000 hours of content and 1,600 titles, a very wide variety of free audiovisual content. Meli Plus has a subscription cost similar to what is today our level 6 in Colombia, Mercado Play has no subscription cost, audiovisual content is free. We are not going to produce content, the idea is that together with our Meli Plus partners, who are content generators, we can distribute what they want for free. We have all the advertising tools that allow us to then monetize and give content generators a payment in exchange for it through the sale of advertising.
Marcos Galperín during a conversation within the framework of the Mercado Libre Experience 2023, in São Paulo, on August 30. Isaac Fontana (EFE)
Q. How do you remember the beginnings of Mercado Libre?
MG. I remember it with great nostalgia. They were very nice years from afar, but they were very stressful. The truth is that we managed seven years to reach equilibrium. Everything we thought was going to happen happened, but it took much longer and was much more difficult. Many people told me that this was not going to work; I was a little unaware, I knew it was. And it worked. People had a reason: it was very difficult to solve the logistics, solve the payments and convince people to buy something they had never seen or touched. In Latin America it was not easy and that is why it cost us so much time. The beginnings were hard because the volumes were very small. On the other hand, now we have learned that, with perseverance, with good technology, with good ideas and with time, things and good ideas end up working, maybe later than sooner, but they end up working.
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