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Argentine fintechs fear Fernández

The new government’s decision to go after Mercado Libre has the sector worried.


Mercado Libre founder and CEO Marcos Galperín

“I think they’ll use it to go after the fintechs." That’s the statement of a finance analyst in Buenos Aires, about how he expects the banks to use this year’s recession to lobby the Argentine government to turn the regulatory screw against the emerging competition.

It’s not a wild claim. Leaders in the start-up community have been demoralized by the new government’s decision to go after the country’s biggest success, Mercado Libre.

The e-commerce platform’s founder and CEO Marcos Galperín quit the leadership, and his residency in the country, as Alberto Fernández organized his move into the Casa Rosada.

Shortly thereafter, the federal prosecutor Guillermo Marijuan accused Galperín and the rest of Mercado Libre’s board of tax evasion, as well as the Orwellian “crimes against financial and economic order”.

While this example of Mecardo Libre is clearly atypical – given the size of the company – and the move smacks of a personal political feud, there is suspicion among the fintech community they are about to be the target of added regulatory and tax burdens that will reduce their ability to compete with the incumbents.

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