The expansion may not necessarily include Mercado Bitcoin acquiring a Mexico-based crypto exchange to operate in the country.
Brazilian crypto exchange Mercado Bitcoin could begin operating in Mexico sometime in 2022, pending regulatory approval.
Speaking to Cointelegraph on Thursday, Mercado Bitcoin CEO Reinaldo Rabelo said the company was awaiting regulatory approval to start operations in Mexico. The details of the expansion are unclear, but Rabelo said in an April interview that acquiring a crypto exchange was an easier route to operate in a new market to avoid starting from scratch.
In January, Mercado Bitcoin’s operator 2TM Group bought a controlling stake in Lisbon-based crypto exchange CriptoLoja as part of the company’s expansion into Portugal. Coinbase was also reportedly in talks to purchase 2TM — with a valuation of more than $2 billion at the time — but ended discussions in May.
Rabelo reportedly said 2TM was "looking at the Latin American market a bit more cautiously due to the macroeconomic scenario,” but did not suggest where or if the company might expand next. At the time of publication, 2TM operates in Brazil and Portugal through firms including Mercado Bitcoin, Blockchain Academy, Bitrust, CriptoLoja, and Portal do Bitcoin.
Should Mercado Bitcoin make the move to Mexico, it would likely be in competition with crypto exchange Bitso, which currently provides services to the country as well as Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador and Colombia. Some lawmakers in Mexico have proposed adopting Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender in the country like its neighbor El Salvador did in September 2021, but there are also plans to introduce a central bank digital currency in 2024.