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  • Brazilians will soon be able to buy, sell, and hold bitcoin via MercadoPago, MercadoLibre’s digital payments app.
  • MercadoLibre, known in Brazil as MercadoLivre, is the country’s biggest ecommerce platform.
  • It is unclear whether customers will be able to withdraw their bitcoin into a self-custody wallet.

MercadoPago, MercadoLibre’s digital payments app, will soon allow its Brazilian customers to buy, sell, and hold bitcoin, Bloomberg reported. The largest Latin American company by market capitalization rolled out this feature to a small group of clients earlier in November and will enable it more broadly in the coming weeks.

“We took the time to study and learn before deciding to step into crypto,” Tulio Oliveira, MercadoPago vice president, said per the report. “This has a transformational potential ahead and opens up a new avenue for us.”

MercadoLibre, which in Brazil is known as MercadoLivre, is the biggest ecommerce site in the country. MercadoPago gives its users access to credit lines, a free credit card, and a simple account that can be used to make and receive payments. The app, which is integrated with Brazil’s instant and free money transmitting platform, Pix, will soon allow its customers to buy, hold, and sell bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

“The idea is to replicate the product in other Latin American markets going forward, according to Oliveira,” per the report. “However, customers, at first, won’t be able to use cryptocurrencies to pay directly for goods purchased on MercadoLibre, he said.”

It is unclear whether customers will be able to withdraw BTC into a self-custody wallet for which they hold the private keys. If MercadoPago doesn’t enable such a feature, customers would be effectively purchasing a bitcoin IOU, which, although it does provide price exposure, locks users away from individual sovereignty and introduces an attack vector by depending on a third party. One can only be sure they own BTC once it is held by a wallet that they control.

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