With almost 4 million customers, Mercado Bitcoin is the first unicorn in the Brazilian crypto industry, less than 10 years after its foundation.
Since 2013, a lot of things have changed in the bitcoin market, the Brazilian economy and the banking ecosystem in general. In this interview with Reinaldo Rabelo (CEO) we talked about all of those subjects and also how the platform protects its data and customer privacy.
Check out this special interview for CyberGhost below.
Brazil is experiencing a revolution in the banking and financial systems. There are new players fighting for market share and offering services that big banks and traditional corporations did not. How does Mercado Bitcoin fit in that scene?
On one hand, new technology and regulation are helping fintechs in Brazil to compete against major financial players offering new, cheaper services, which is a global tendency. On the other hand, we have consumers who grew up handling their lives, including investments, through a smartphone.
In the last few years, 2TM, the controlling shareholder of Mercado Bitcoin, has been building a financial infrastructure to suit these new generation’s needs, while it complies with the local regulation, to democratize investments in alternative assets.
Since 2018, 2TM has created or directly invested in 20 companies to fill the blanks of the Brazilian crypto market and build a bridge with the traditional financial system. We can cite a few examples such as the MB custody, which helps fund managers structure crypto funds, the Blockchain Academy, our education unit, and the MB Tokens, a tokenization company.
Mercado Bitcoin was founded in 2013 and Bitcoin, in that year, was valued at US$ 13,50 on January 1st. How did you prepare for the boom that happened in the following years?
Since D1, the company knew that crypto would be widely adopted across the Globe. What 2TM didn’t know was when would be this boom. So, we built up the company supported by two main forces: the continuous investments in technology and the ongoing search for talents.
This company is above all the team it has brought together. In some moments, the market expanded faster than our capacity to invest or to hire new talents, but most of the time 2TM was able to handle its needs.
Finally, in 2020, as we realized that crypto was about to get into the mainstream, we started talking to investors to help accelerate our expansion plan and bring their expertise into our journey as well. Last year, we became the first Brazilian crypto unicorn after raising more than US$ 250 million with a series A and a series B investment rounds and brought high-profile investors.
Cryptocurrencies are targeted by cybercriminals and there is no shortage of news about leaks, stolen wallets and cyberattacks suffered by platforms and users. What strategy was implemented by your company to prevent those problems?
It’s certainly true that cryptos are targeted by criminals. And it’s true as well that criminals target any asset all over the world: watches, cars, expensive sneakers, cash. Anything.
First of all, security measures: everyone must be careful with their belongings. So we are and we teach our customers how to be careful as well. The second security measure is not to talk about our security measures. We don’t wanna give criminals an edge knowing what our strategy is.
All said, 2TM adopts the best market practices for investor security, has the best available security technology and a full-time team built by an industry veteran, Mynul Hoda, our Global CTO.
On the user side, what does your client need to do to protect their funds from attacks and investing with safety?
It is necessary to adopt a bastion of measures to hinder criminal actions, as well as to remain vigilant. As Mercado Bitcoin’s safety tutorial explains to our customers, the first two steps are to set a strong password and use a two-step verification account.
Though someone may have created a strong password for a bank account, it’s always good to have another strong one for Mercado Bitcoin. Don’t use the same password.
Regarding being vigilant: be careful while using public wi-fi networks, don’t click on unsolicited links, don’t give your account information to other people. Also, it doesn’t hurt to remember that new scams appear every day.
You now offer several services and products. Can you present some of them to us?
As 2TM has been building up a crypto ecosystem that interacts with the traditional market, the company offers services and products from crypto currency trading to wealth management. MB Tokens, the tokenization unit, has been creating innovative and disruptive tokens backed by credit receivables, court-order payments and quotas of pre-purchase finance pools. These digital fixed-income tokens give our customers access to products that were only offered to qualified investors and have investment returns of as much as 20% a year.
NFT is a segment 2TM sees a great growth potential, because it connects people to their passions and it may support important social issues such as climate change or the protection of rainforests.
Education is another area in which we have an important role with Blockchain Academy, which holds regular classes on crypto related subjects, and Portal do Bitcoin, Brazil’s top crypto news website. Financial education is crucial to help people make the best investment decisions. In the traditional market, we control MB Asset, a wealth-management firm with about 600 million reais in assets.
How can you differentiate yourself in a market that is starting to get crowded, nationally, and also regionally (LATAM in your case)?
Competition is always welcome and important to stimulate innovation. To remain on the top of this competitive market, 2TM has the most complete range of digital services and products in the region.
Our ecosystem shelters from a tokenization unit to a digital-asset custodian company. The client of Mercado Bitcoin doesn’t need to knock someone else’s door if one day it wants to purchase a NFT, or seek a custodian to set up a crypto fund, or learn a little bit more on blockchain. This ecosystem improves customer loyalty and captures growth in different markets.
What are Mercado Bitcoin’s plans for the near future (3-5 years)?
Starting this year, 2TM plans to become a regional player with a footprint in Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Argentina.
Once we consolidate our position in this market in the next 2 years, our goal is to become a global player. 2TM already has a footprint in Europe as it acquired Portuguese crypto exchange CriptoLoja last year. In 5 years, we believe the boundaries between the traditional and crypto markets will vanish, which will be a milestone for 2TM, as it is already building the bridge between these two markets.
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