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FOR FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2020
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Any statements made or implied in this report that are not statements of historical fact, including statements about our beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), and should be evaluated as such. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “estimate,” “target,” “project,” “should,” “may,” “could,” “will” and similar words and expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are contained throughout this report. Forward-looking statements generally relate to information concerning our possible or assumed future results of operations, business strategies, financing plans, competitive position, industry environment, potential growth opportunities, future economic, political and social conditions in the countries in which we operate and their possible impact on our business, and the effects of future regulation and the effects of competition. Such forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors (in addition to those discussed elsewhere in this report) that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, among other things:
our expectations regarding the continued growth of e-commerce and Internet usage in Latin America;
our ability to expand our operations and adapt to rapidly changing technologies;
our ability to attract new customers, retain existing customers and increase revenues;
the impact of government, central bank and other regulations on our business;
litigation and legal liability;
systems interruptions or failures;
our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel;
security breaches and illegal uses of our services;
reliance on third-party service providers;
enforcement of intellectual property rights;
political, social and economic conditions in Latin America;
the expected timing and amount of MercadoLibre’s share repurchases;
our long-term sustainability goals; and
the current and potential impact of COVID-19 on our net revenues, gross profit margins, operating margins and liquidity due to future disruptions in operations as well as the macroeconomic instability caused by the pandemic.
Many of these risks are beyond our ability to control or predict. New risk factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for Management to predict all such risk factors, nor can it assess the impact of all such risk factors on our company’s business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements.
These statements are based on currently available information and our current assumptions, expectations and projections about future events. While we believe that our assumptions, expectations and projections are reasonable in view of the currently available information, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance. Some of the material risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations and projections are described in “Item 1A—Risk Factors” in Part I of this report. You should read that information in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Item 7 of Part II of this report, as well as the factors discussed in the other reports and documents we file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). We note such information for investors as permitted by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. There also may be other factors that we cannot anticipate or that are not described in this report, generally because they are unknown to us or we do not perceive them to be material that could cause results to differ materially from our expectations.
Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we do not undertake to update these forward-looking statements except as may be required by law. You are advised, however, to review any further disclosures we make on related subjects in our periodic filings with the SEC.
MercadoLibre, Inc. (together with its subsidiaries “us”, “we”, “our” or the “Company”) is the largest online commerce ecosystem in Latin America based on unique visitors and page views, and is present in 18 countries: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and El Salvador. Our platform is designed to provide users with a complete portfolio of services to facilitate commercial transactions both digitally and offline.
We offer our users an ecosystem of six integrated e-commerce and digital payments services: the Mercado Libre Marketplace, the Mercado Pago FinTech platform, the Mercado Envios logistics service, the Mercado Libre Ads solution, the Mercado Libre Classifieds service and the Mercado Shops online storefronts solution.
Through our e-commerce platform, we provide buyers and sellers with a robust and safe environment that fosters the development of a large e-commerce community in Latin America, a region with a population of over 646 million people and with one of the fastest-growing Internet penetration and e-commerce growth rates in the world. We believe that we offer world-class technological and commercial solutions that address the distinctive cultural and geographic challenges of operating a digital commerce platform in Latin America.
The Mercado Libre Marketplace is a fully-automated, topically-arranged and user-friendly online commerce platform, which can be accessed through our website and mobile app. This platform enables us when we act as sellers in our first party business, merchants and individuals to list merchandise and conduct sales and purchases digitally.
To complement the Mercado Libre Marketplace and enhance the user experience for our buyers and sellers, we developed Mercado Pago, an integrated digital payments solution. Mercado Pago was initially designed to facilitate transactions on Mercado Libre’s Marketplaces by providing a mechanism that allowed our users to securely, easily and promptly send and receive payments, but it is now a full ecosystem of financial technology solutions both in the digital and physical world. Our digital payments solution enables any Mercado Libre registered user to securely and easily send and receive digital payments and to pay for purchases made on any of Mercado Libre’s Marketplaces. Currently, Mercado Pago processes and settles all transactions on our Marketplaces in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay, and is also available for our buyers and sellers in Peru.
Beyond facilitating Marketplace transactions, over the years we have expanded our array of Mercado Pago services to third parties outside Mercado Libre’s Marketplace. We began first by satisfying the growing demand for online-based payment solutions by providing merchants the necessary digital payment infrastructure for e-commerce to flourish in Latin America. Today, Mercado Pago’s digital payments business not only allows merchants to facilitate checkout and payment processes on their websites through a branded or white label solution or software development kits, but it also enables users to transfer money in a simple manner to each other through the Mercado Pago website or on Mercado Pago app. Through Mercado Pago, we brought trust to the merchant customer relationship, allowing online consumers to shop easily and safely, while giving them the confidence to securely share sensitive personal and financial data with us.
The Mercado Envios logistics solution enables sellers on our platform to utilize third-party carriers and other logistics service providers, while also providing them with fulfillment and warehousing services. The logistics services we offer are an integral part of our value proposition, as they reduce friction between buyers and sellers, and allow us to have greater control over the full user experience. Sellers that opt into our logistics solutions are not only able to offer a uniform and seamlessly integrated shipping experience to their buyers at competitive prices, but are also eligible to access shipping subsidies to offer free or discounted shipping for many of their sales on our Marketplaces. In 2020, we launched Meli Air with a fleet of dedicated aircrafts covering routes across Brazil and Mexico, which we expect will allow us to improve our delivery times.
As we deployed our digitally-based payments solutions, we also observed that individuals and micro, small and medium- sized enterprises (“MSMEs”) in the physical world were being underserved or overlooked by incumbent payment providers and financial institutions in Latin America, and that a very large number of retail transactions were still being settled in cash throughout the region. Consequently, we have also aggressively deepened our fintech offerings by growing our online-to-offline (“O2O”) products and services. We envision Mercado Pago as a powerful disruptive provider of end-to-end financial technology solutions that will generate financial inclusion for segments of the population that have been historically underserved and operate in the informal economy today.
In our main markets, we currently offer the following solutions:
In-store physical payments by selling mobile point of sale (“MPOS”) devices and quick response (“QR”) payment codes;
Digital payment solutions for utilities, mobile phone top up, peer-to-peer payments and more through our mobile wallet;
Pre-paid cards and debit cards for users to spend and withdraw their account balances from their Mercado Pago wallet, as well as co-branded credit cards in Argentina;
Merchant credits and consumer credits on and off the Mercado Libre Marketplace; and
A money market fund to invest balances stored on Mercado Pago accounts, which we market under the name Mercado Fondo.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the payments business had a positive effect on the majority of our online payment flows which benefited from the same tailwinds as our e-commerce business and more than offset the negative impact of the pandemic on our offline payment solutions which suffered as a result of the lockdowns imposed by the governments in Latin America and the resulting contracted physical footprint.
We launched Mercado Credito, our credit solution, in 2016 in Argentina and in 2017 in Brazil and Mexico. Mercado Credito leverages our user base, which is not only loyal and engaged, but has also been historically underserved or overlooked by financial institutions and suffers from a lack of access to needed credit. Facilitating credit is a key service overlay that enables us to further strengthen the engagement and lock-in rate of our users, while also generating additional touchpoints and incentives to use Mercado Pago as an end-to-end financial solution. Initially, we began offering credit to our merchants given our distribution capabilities and in-depth understanding of their sales on the Mercado Libre Marketplace. This has also allowed us to develop our own proprietary credit risk models with unique data that differentiate our scoring from traditional financial institutions, as we are able to leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms that we historically used for fraud prevention. Additionally, because our merchants’ business flows through Mercado Pago, we are able to collect principal and interest payments from their existing sales on Mercado Libre’s Marketplaces, meaningfully reducing the risk of uncollectability on the loans we originate to our merchants.
Having identified a similar opportunity to fill a gap in terms of demand for credit, we began to originate working capital loans to merchants who adopt our MPOS solutions. Merchant credit to MPOS merchants was launched in Argentina and Brazil in 2018 and in Mexico in 2019.
A significant segment of the population in Latin America does not have access to credit cards. Knowing that access to credit is an enabler for consumers when purchasing high-ticket items, in 2017 we began to extend consumer credit to our buyers as well, leveraging their existing data on Mercado Libre’s Marketplaces to proactively offer loans to them both on and off the marketplace. We introduced Mercado Credito for consumers in Argentina in 2017, in Brazil in 2018 and in Mexico in 2019. As we better understood consumer behavior on our Marketplace, we rolled out Mercado Credito to selected buyers in 2019 so that they could buy products and services off-platform in Argentina and Brazil. In 2020, we also rolled out this feature in Mexico.
Our credits business was initially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic. As the pandemic worsened and governments increasingly imposed lockdowns in April 2020, we slowed our pace of originations as a precautionary measure to manage our exposure to merchant and consumer credit risk. As the year progressed and our business began to accelerate again we were able to mitigate default rates due to the swift preventative measures we took in April 2020. Consequently, non-performing loans began to improve and we started increasing originations again. We entered the second half of 2020 with more data in our proprietary credit models, which helped us gain a better understanding of users. This understanding enabled us to more accurately predict their behavior and continue increasing the pace of originations while maintaining low levels of uncollectibility to date.
During the second half of 2018, we launched our asset management product for individuals in Argentina and for individuals and businesses in Brazil. More recently, in 2020, we launched the asset management product in Mexico. This product is a critical pillar to building our alternative two-sided network vision. It incentivizes our users to begin to fund their digital wallets with cash as opposed to credit or debit cards given that the return our product offers is greater than traditional checking accounts.
With a seamless onboarding, this product allows users to withdraw and use the value stored in their digital wallets at any given time through QR code in-store payments, pre-paid cards, or cash withdrawn from an ATM, without requiring that their funds be trapped in a money market fund or a certificate of deposit to obtain an equivalent return. This product is another way in which we continue to innovate, leveraging the rising trust in third-party e-commerce platforms and low levels of formal sector financial inclusion, which generate a unique opportunity for investment products aimed at users in Latin America who are unbanked or underbanked.
Our advertising platform, Mercado Ads, enables businesses to promote their products and services on the internet. Through our advertising platform, brands and sellers are able to display ads on our webpages through product searches, banner ads or suggested products. Our advertising platform enables merchants and brands to access the millions of consumers that are on our Marketplaces at any given time with the intent to purchase, which increases the likelihood of conversion.
Through Mercado Libre Classifieds, our online classified listing service, our users can also list and purchase motor vehicles, real estate and services in the countries where we operate. Classifieds listings differ from Marketplace listings as they only charge optional placement fees and not final value fees. Our classifieds pages are also a major source of traffic to our platform, benefitting both the commerce and fintech businesses.
Complementing the services we offer, our digital storefront solution, Mercado Shops, allows users to set up, manage and promote their own digital stores. These stores are hosted by Mercado Libre and offer integration with the rest of our ecosystem, namely our Marketplaces, payment services and logistics services. Users can create a store at no cost, and can access additional functionalities and value added services on commission.
The following table shows the main services currently available in each country where we operate:
Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador
We have two distinctive revenue streams in our business:
Our Commerce business is comprised of revenue streams that are mainly generated from: Marketplace fees that include final value fees and flat fees for transactions below a certain merchandise value; shipping fees net of third-party carrier costs (when we act as an agent); classifieds fees; ad sales up-front fees; sales of goods; and fees from other ancillary businesses.
Our Fintech business is comprised of revenue streams that are generated from our Mercado Pago business. With respect to Mercado Pago, we generate fees attributable to: commissions that are charged to sellers representing a percentage of the processed payment volume in connection with off-Marketplace transactions; commissions from additional fees we charge when a buyer elects to pay in installments through our Mercado Pago platform for transactions that occur either on or off our Marketplace; commissions from additional fees we charge when our sellers elect to withdraw cash, cash advances and fees from merchant and consumer credits granted under our Mercado Credito solution; and revenues from the sale of MPOS products.
Our main focus is to serve people in Latin America by enabling wider access to retail, digital payments and e-commerce services, and by providing compelling technology-based solutions that democratize commerce and money, thus contributing to the development of a large and growing digital economy in a region with a population of over 646 million people and one of the fastest-growing e-commerce and internet penetration rates in the world.
We serve our buyers by giving them access to a broad and affordable variety of products and services, a selection we believe to be larger than otherwise available to them via other online and offline sources serving our Latin American markets. We believe we serve our sellers by giving them access to a larger and more geographically diverse user base at a lower overall cost and investment than offline venues serving our Latin American markets. Additionally, we provide payment settlement services and shipping solutions to facilitate such transactions, and advertising solutions to promote them. We also serve our users by making capital more accessible through different credit products and fostering entrepreneurship and social mobility, with the goal of creating significant value for our stakeholders.
More broadly, we strive to make inefficient markets more efficient through technology and in that process generate value for all our stakeholders.
To achieve these objectives, we intend to pursue the following strategies:
Continue to improve shopping experience for our users. We intend to continually enhance our e-commerce ecosystem in order to better serve individuals, brands, retailers and other businesses that want to buy or sell goods and services online in a convenient, simple and safe way. We are committed to continue investing in the development of new tools and technologies that facilitate web and mobile commerce on our platform. In line with our constant focus on innovation, a critical component of user experience is the vertical solutions that we offer across key categories. We will continue to focus on improving the functionality of our websites and apps, building a verticalized experience in key categories, driving increased usage of our payments and shipping solutions to deliver a more efficient and safe shopping experience and providing our users with the help of a dedicated customer support department. We will continue to focus on increasing purchase frequency and transaction volumes from our existing users, including the development of our Mercado Puntos loyalty program for frequent buyers.
Continue to grow our business and maintain market leadership. We focus on growing our business, achieving as many scale-related competitive advantages and strengthening our position as a preferred commerce and fintech platform in each of the markets in which we operate. We also intend to grow our business and maintain our leadership by taking advantage of the expanding potential user base that has resulted from the growth of internet penetration rates in Latin America. We intend to achieve these goals through organic growth, by introducing our business in new countries and entering new category segments, by launching new transactional business lines, and through potential strategic acquisitions of key businesses and assets.
Expand into additional transactional service offerings. Our strategic focus is to enable online transactions of multiple types of goods and services throughout Latin America. Consequently, we strive to launch online transactional offerings in new product and service categories where we believe business opportunities exist. These new transactional offerings include, but are not limited to: (a) offering additional product categories in our marketplace, (b) expanding our presence in vehicle, real estate and services classifieds, (c) maximizing utilization of Mercado Pago on our platform and expanding off-platform in digital and offline transactions, (d) maximizing the value and usage of account money through investments in Mercado Fondo ,(e) maximizing utilization of Mercado Envios, (f) expanding our Mercado Credito service, (g) offering enterprise software solutions to our online commerce business clients and (h) expanding our advertising offerings. We believe that a significant portion of our growth will be derived from these new or expanded product and service launches in the future.
Increase monetization of our transactions. We focus on improving the revenue generation capacity of our business by implementing initiatives designed to maximize the revenues we generate from transactions on our platform. Some of these initiatives include increasing our fee structure, selling advertising on our platform, offering other e-commerce services and expanding our fee-based features.
Take advantage of the natural synergies that exist among our services. We strive to leverage our various services and our Mercado Puntos loyalty program, to promote greater cross-usage and synergies, thereby creating a fully integrated ecosystem of e-commerce offerings. Consequently, we will continue to promote the adoption of our Mercado Envios logistics solution, our advertising solution, our Mercado Pago payments solution on our Marketplaces and reward our users for increased usage and engagement.
Our marketing strategy is designed to grow our platform by promoting the Mercado Libre and Mercado Pago brands, attracting new users, generating more frequent trading by our existing users and cross-selling services among our existing user base. To this end, we employ various means of advertising, including placement in leading online channels across Latin America, paid and organic positioning in leading search engines, email and push notification marketing, onsite marketing, presence in offline events and use of targeted promotional discount coupons. During 2020, we also launched branding campaigns for Mercado Libre and Mercado Pago, executed on public TV, cable TV, radio, billboards and on online platforms, such as YouTube. We continued carrying out a complete coverage of promotional campaigns on commercial dates such as Children’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and dates specific to the e-commerce industry such as Hot Sale, CyberMonday and Black Friday. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched our new logo “Codo a Codo” (elbow to elbow) to increase awareness regarding new health and safety protocols. This campaign included communications about how our users could use our Marketplace platform to receive goods that they needed at home in a safe way and included a branded content program aimed at thanking the heroes of the pandemic. Codo a Codo also included an initiative to support MSMEs aimed at communicating how together we could reactivate the economy across Latin America. Our expenditures on marketing and sales expenses related to our strategic marketing initiatives were $391.2 million during 2020 and $473.9 million during 2019.
Product Development and Technology
At December 31, 2020, we had 5,201 employees on our information technology and product development staff, an increase from 1,709 employees at December 31, 2019, due to new hires and as a consequence of improvements in our ecosystem products, such as Mercado Envios and our FinTech solution, which increased our information technology and product development staff. We incurred product development expenses (including salaries) in the amount of $352.5 million in 2020 and $223.8 million in 2019.
We continually work to improve both our Mercado Libre Marketplace and Mercado Pago websites so that they better serve our users’ needs and function more efficiently. A significant portion of our information technology resources are allocated to these purposes. We strive to maintain the right balance between offering new features and enhancing the existing functionality and architecture of our software and hardware.
The effective management of the Mercado Libre Marketplace and Mercado Pago software architecture and hardware requirements is as important as introducing additional and better features for our users. Because our business has grown relatively quickly, we must ensure that our systems are capable of absorbing this incremental volume. Therefore, our engineers work to optimize our processes and equipment by designing more effective ways to run our platform.
We develop most of our software technology in-house. We have six development centers in Argentina, where we concentrate the majority of our development efforts. We have other research and/or development centers in Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile.
We have made acquisitions in the past to enhance our software development capabilities, and we outsource certain projects to outside developers. We believe that outsourcing the development of certain projects allows us to have a greater operating capacity and strengthens our internal know-how by incorporating new expertise into our business. In addition, our developers frequently interact with technology suppliers and attend technology-related events to familiarize themselves with the latest inventions and developments in the field.
We also rely on certain technologies that we license from third parties, suppliers of key database technology, operating system and specific hardware components for our services.
Since 2010, we have been continuously working on a deep technology overhaul to switch from a closed and monolithic system to an open and decoupled one. We split Mercado Libre into many small “cells”. A cell is a functional unit with its own team, hardware, data and source code. Cells interact with each other using Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs. All the front-ends are also being rewritten on top of these APIs. This effort has consumed a large amount of capital, people and management’s focus, and we intend to keep investing in this area. In October 2012, we opened our platform to the developer community during a launch event in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We seek to further open our platform to developers in the other locations in which we operate, with the objective of continuing to enhance our ecosystem.
We anticipate that we will continue to devote significant resources to product development in the future as we add new features and functionality to our services. The market in which we compete is characterized by rapidly changing and disruptive technologies, evolving industry and regulatory standards, frequent new service and product announcements, introductions and enhancements and changing customer demands. Accordingly, we believe the cornerstone of our future success will depend on our ability to adapt to rapidly changing technologies, to adapt our services to evolving industry and regulatory standards and to continually improve the performance, features, user experience and reliability of our services in response to competitive product and service offerings and evolving demands of the marketplace.
Like most retail businesses, we experience the effects of seasonality in all of the countries in which we operate throughout the calendar year. Although much of our seasonality is due to the Christmas holiday season, the geographic diversity of our operations helps mitigate the seasonality attributed to summer vacation time (i.e. southern and northern hemispheres) and national holidays.
Typically, the fourth quarter of the year is the strongest in every country where we operate due to the significant increase in transactions before the Christmas season. See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Seasonality”. The first quarter of the year is generally our slowest period. The months of January, February and March correspond to summer vacation time in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay. Additionally, the Easter holiday falls in March or April, and Brazil celebrates Carnival for one week in February or March. This first quarter seasonality is partially mitigated by our operations in the countries located in the northern hemisphere, such as Colombia and Mexico, the slowest months for which are the summer months of July, August and September. Lastly, commercial campaigns like Hot Sale, Black Friday and Cyber Monday generate an increase in transactions.
The online commerce market is rapidly evolving and is highly competitive. We expect competition to intensify even further in the future. Barriers-to-entry for large, well-established internet companies are relatively low, and current and new competitors can launch new sites at a relatively low cost using commercially available software. While we are currently a market leader in a number of the markets in which we operate, we currently or potentially could compete with marketplace operators, businesses that offer business-to-consumer online e-commerce services or others with a focus on specific vertical categories, as well as a growing number of brick and mortar retailers that have launched online offerings. Over the past few years, we have seen competition intensify not only as local players such as B2W or Magazine Luiza grow their e-commerce businesses, but also from international players such as Amazon, which has been operating in Mexico since 2015 and continued to establish and expanded its online retailing business in Brazil in 2020.
Mercado Pago competes with existing digital and offline payment methods, including banks and other providers of traditional payment methods. Mercado Pago also competes in the rapidly evolving FinTech space with local and strong global players that are becoming increasingly interested in Latin America.
In the classifieds and advertising market, we compete with regional and local players with general or verticalized focus. In addition, we face competition from a number of large online communities and services that have expertise in developing e-commerce, facilitating online interaction, or both. Other large companies with strong brand recognition and experience in e-commerce, such as large newspapers or media companies, also compete in the online listing market in Latin America.
Intellectual Property Rights
We regard the protection of our intellectual property (“IP”) rights, such as copyrights, trademarks, domain names and trade secrets as critical to our future success and rely on a combination of intellectual property and unfair competition laws and contractual restrictions to establish and protect our proprietary rights in our products and services. We have entered into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and certain contractors. We have also established non-disclosure agreements with our employees, strategic partners and some suppliers in order to limit access to and prevent disclosure of our proprietary information.
In particular, we pursue the registration of our trademarks in each country in which we operate as well as in the United States, in the European Union, in China and in certain other strategic countries.
As part of our acquisition of Classified Media Group, Inc. (or “CMG”), we acquired trademarks of CMG in Colombia and Venezuela. We also own trademarks of Autoplaza.com.mx in Mexico. Additionally, we acquired and operate online classified advertisements platforms dedicated to the sale of real estate in Chile through the Portal Inmobiliario brand and in Mexico through the Metros Cúbicos brand. We acquired Metros Cúbicos S.A. de C.V. (“Metros Cúbicos”) and its trademarks in 2015, which is a company dedicated to the sale of real estate in Mexico. Metros Cúbicos merged into MercadoLibre, S. de R.L. de C.V. as of December 2016.
We have licensed in the past, and expect that we may license in the future, certain of our proprietary rights, such as trademarks or copyrights to third parties. While we attempt to ensure that our licensees maintain the quality of the Mercado Libre brand, our licensees may take actions that could affect the value of our proprietary rights or reputation, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Third parties have from time to time claimed, and others may claim in the future, that we have infringed their intellectual property rights by the content listing or the products offered on Mercado Libre. See “Item 3. Legal Proceedings” and “Item 1A. Risk factors—Risks related to our business— We could face legal and financial liability for the sale of items that infringe on the intellectual property and distribution rights of others and for information and material disseminated through our platforms” below, where we explain our related measures and our Brand Protection Program, the program we provide to intellectual property rights owners to enable them to enforce their rights against listings on our sites that allegedly infringe upon those rights.
Employees and Labor Relations
The following table shows the number of our employees by country at December 31, 2020:
Number of Employees
We manage operations in the remaining countries in which we have operations remotely from our headquarters in Argentina.
Our employees in Brazil are represented by different labor unions: i) Fetramag (“Federação dos Trabalhadores na Movimentação de Mercadorias em Geral de Goiás, Bahia e Piauí”) in the States of Goias, Bahia and Piauí, ii) Fetrammergs (“Federação dos Trabalhadores na Movimentação de Mercadorias em Geral, Comércio Armazenador e Auxiliares de Administração de Armazéns Gerais do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul”) in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, and iii) by an Information Technology Companies Labor Union in the State of São Paulo (“Sindicato dos Trabalhadores nas Empresas e Cursos de Informática do Estado de São Paulo”). Also, some of our employees in Argentina are represented by the Commercial Labor Union (“Sindicato de Empleados de Comercio”) and our fulfillment employees in Argentina are represented by “Sindicato de Carga y Descarga” and some of our employees in Uruguay are represented by the Commercial Labor Union (“Federación Uruguaya de Empleados de Comercio y Servicios”). Unions or local regulations in other countries could also require that employees be represented. We consider our relations with our employees to be good and we implement a variety of human resources practices, programs and policies that are designed to hire, develop, compensate and retain our employees.
Talent and Development
To be leaders in Latin America, we attract, engage and develop the best talent by offering a transformative experience, co-creating the best place to work and ensuring our “DNA” (or our culture) is present in every corner of our business. Our business is based on technology and knowledge. In order to achieve our goals in innovation and knowledge we need focused and prepared human capital; motivated and committed employees to drive sustainable results.
We care about developing the unique relationship we have with each person who chooses to work at MercadoLibre. Our Human Capital team is made up of almost 300 people, who operate with a clear vision and strategy so that the behaviors and systems within our Company are consistent with our DNA. Our strategy is based on a platform of coherent, rooted and constantly developing culture. We believe that being part of our Company is an experience that is always dynamic, collaborative, inspiring and full of opportunities. Our employee value proposition is designed to be attractive to the profile of entrepreneurial talent and is aligned with our DNA. For this reason, it allows everyone in our Company to engage their experience in a unique way.
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity to test our culture, which we believe is one of our main competitive advantages, and to assess how it responds to this unexpected context in which our business continues to grow. Surprisingly, in this challenging context, we believe that our teams have achieved their highest level of engagement. Despite its difficulties, 2020 will stand out in our history as the year in which we established ourselves as one of the best employment choice in the region and among the top 10 worldwide based on the 2020 Great Place to Work rankings.
Diversity and Inclusion
In our effort to democratize e-commerce, multiplying perspectives, we innovate through diversity. Being inclusive makes us more disruptive. We inspire people to develop their skills and express their feelings in a healthy and fair environment, where prior beliefs do not determine approval and curiosity allows us to appreciate differences.
Our mission with respect to diversity and inclusion is to: i) build diverse teams, with respect to gender sexual orientation, disabilities, and racial or ethnic backgrounds, ii) foster an inclusive culture through the experience that each person lives in MELI: the way of doing things, the workspaces, the technology and the processes, and iii) nourish IT talent, expanding access to technology education, prioritizing gender. We prioritize the inclusion and the development of women within the Company. Four out of ten employees are women, who make up 25% of the leadership positions in Senior Management. We have also made progress in our recruitment model, promoting awareness and providing tools to our Talent Acquisition teams regarding unconscious bias when hiring, developing and engaging people.
Health and safety policies adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic
When the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in Latin America, we took several precautions that management deemed were necessary to safeguard employees’s health and safety, using its transformational capital to care for employees and guarantee our continued operations. In a matter of 24 hours, 90% of our employees transitioned to a remote working environment. The remaining 10% that were deemed to be essential staff continued working on site subject to new health and safety standards. In addition to making remote work possible and reinforcing prevention and security measures for essential on site employees, we also focused on the wellness experience. We increased mindfulness, yoga, gym workouts and psychological assistance services. We also scheduled and broadcasted talks with specialists in areas relating to wellbeing, such as learning circles on how to manage emotions, healthy sleep recommendations and resilience, among others.
We are subject to a variety of laws, decrees and regulations that affect companies conducting business on the Internet in some of the countries where we operate related to e-commerce, electronic payments, privacy, data protection, taxation (including value added taxes (“VAT”), or sales tax collection obligations), obligations to provide information to certain authorities about transactions occurring on our platform or about our users, anti money laundering regulations, transport regulations and other legislation which also applies to other companies conducting business in general. It is not clear how existing laws governing issues such as general commercial activities, property ownership, copyrights and other intellectual property issues, taxation, libel and defamation, obscenity, consumer protection, digital signatures and personal privacy apply to online businesses. Some of these laws were adopted before the Internet was available and, as a result, do not contemplate or address the unique issues of the Internet. Due to these areas of legal uncertainty, and the increasing popularity and use of the Internet and other online services, it is possible that new laws and regulations will be adopted with respect to the Internet or other online services. These regulations could cover a wide variety of issues, including, without limitation, online commerce, Internet service providers’ responsibility for third party content hosted in their servers, user privacy, electronic or mobile payments, freedom of expression, pricing, content and quality of products and services, taxation (including VAT or sales tax collection obligations, obligation to provide certain information about transactions that occurred through our platform, or about our users), advertising, intellectual property rights, consumer protection and information security.
Our Mercado Pago service is subject to regulation in the countries in which we operate, as described below:
Since 2013, we are subject to obligations in Brazil imposed on certain payment processing functions carried out by non-financial institutions. On November 1, 2018 we obtained the approval from the Central Bank of Brazil (“BACEN”) to operate as authorized payment institution, pursuant to its regulations and controls. The approval confirmed our ability to continue carrying out the payment processing functions.
With the Authorization, Mercado Pago in Brazil is subject to the supervision of the BACEN and must fully comply with all the obligations established in the current regulation, under penalty of (i) formal warning establishing a deadline for the remediation of non-compliance activity, (ii) pay penalties for non-compliance, or (iii) shut down our Mercado Pago business in Brazil for an indefinite period of time, which would be costly.
In November 2020, the BACEN approved the application filed by MercadoLibre Inc. for authorization to incorporate a financial institution in the modality of savings and loan associations. In light of the authorization granted by BACEN, the new institution (Mercado Crédito Sociedade de Crédito, Financiamento e Investimento S.A.) will be able to operate activities related to the granting of loans in a more efficient way and to obtain better funding alternatives for the business. In addition, Mercado Crédito in Brazil will now be subject to the supervision of the BACEN and must fully comply with the existing regulations.
In August 2018, Brazil approved its first comprehensive data protection law (the “Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais” or “LGPD”), which became applicable to our business in Brazil since August 2020. In December 2018, the former president of Brazil issued Provisional Measure No. 869/2018 which amended the LGPD and created Brazil’s national data protection authority (the “ANDP”).
We have created a program to oversee the implementation of relevant changes to our business processes, compliance infrastructures and IT systems to reflect the new requirements and comply with the LGPD.
In January 2020, the Central Bank of Argentina(the “CBA”) enacted regulations relating to the payments services providers that apply to the FinTech institutions that are not financial institutions but nevertheless, provide payment services in at least one of the stages of the payment system. Pursuant to this regulation, payment service providers had to register by April 1, 2020, in a registry of payment service providers created by the CBA. The regulation sets forth certain specific rules related to (i) providing information to users; (ii) depositing user’s funds in a freely available bank account; (iii) allowing users to dispose immediately of the funds accredited to their accounts; and (iv) providing information to the CBA relating to the business of payments processing. On July 7, 2020, Mercado Libre S.R.L. was registered on the CBA as a payment service provider in accordance with applicable regulations.
In October 2020, the CBA issued a regulation that applies to non-financial loan providers. In accordance with this regulation, we had to register in the Registry of other non-financial loan providers by December 1, 2020 and, effective March 1, 2021, we will need to provide certain information on a monthly basis as part of a new reporting regime. The regulation also requires that we comply with certain rules established by the CBA regarding, among other things: (i) interest rates in loan operations; (ii) protection of users of financial services; (iii) methods of communication with users of financial services; and (iv) such users’ access to information concerning their contractual obligations. The rules regarding interest rates became effective as of January 1, 2021, and the rules regarding the protection of users of financial services, methods of communication and access to information became effective as of February 1, 2021.
As we continue to develop Mercado Pago and, particularly, our peer-to-peer lending business, we may need to secure governmental authorizations or licenses or comply with regulations applicable to financial institutions, electronic payments and/or anti-money laundering in the countries where we offer this service. In this regard, since November 2016 the Argentine subsidiary of the Company is registered before the Argentine anti-money laundering authority (“Unidad de Información Financiera”) as an entity subject to certain reporting obligations pursuant to anti-money laundering local regulations relating to the issuance of prepaid cards and, for 2020, card aggregator activities.
In 2017, Mexico’s anti-competition regulatory agency (“COFECE”) began to investigate potential monopolistic practices across the e-commerce industry in an effort to ensure compliance with the Mexican anti-competition statute. The investigation sought to ascertain whether Mercado Libre was unduly conditioning online sellers’ access to its marketplace to the use of its own payment solution (Mercado Pago), with anticompetitive intent or effect. After an exhaustive investigation, COFECE concluded that the alleged conduct does not unduly hinder competition and therefore is not an illegal practice. The investigation was closed on May 14, 2020.
In March 2018, Mexico enacted a new law that regulates both crowd-funders as well as providers of wallets and money transmittal services (the “Fintech Law”). Under the Fintech Law, institutions that provided the aforementioned services prior to its enactment are required to submit an application to the Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (the Mexican National Banking Commission or the “CNBV”) to obtain a license, and may continue to provide those services while such license application is being processed. Our Mexican subsidiary submitted an application to obtain such license in September 2019. The application is being currently processed by the CNBV.
Colombian regulations establish specific requirements to open accounts and provide certain payment services, as well as policies for cash and risk management. There are also regulations requiring payment processors such as Mercado Pago to comply with certain security, privacy and anti-money laundering standards. As a result, Mercado Pago has started the process of incorporating a new company (“MercadoPago S.A. Compañía de Financiamiento”) which will request a license to act as a financial institution, and will therefore be able to offer credits, digital accounts and prepaid cards without any limitation. We expect this new company to be fully operational by the beginning of June 2021.
Uruguay and Peru
Uruguay and Peru have also enacted regulations that cover a wide variety of issues related to electronic payments or e-money, including, among other things, rules related to the requirement to obtain authorization from the relevant authority to operate, offer or provide certain payment services. In September 2016, we obtained the registration of our Uruguayan subsidiary before the Central Bank of Uruguay as an entity entitled to provide services of payments and collections. Thus, on November 1, 2016 Mercado Pago was launched in Uruguay.
In 2017 and 2018, Chile enacted regulations regarding the issuance and operation of payment cards, which could affect Mercado Pago's operations, including authorization to operate, anti-money laundering obligations, capital requirements and reserve funds, operational and security safeguards, among others. In 2020, the Chilean Commission for the Financial Market authorized Mercado Pago to act as a prepaid card issuer and payment card operator, which is the first phase in the process. Mercado Pago’s request for authorization to operate, which is the second phase in the process, is still pending before the Chilean Commission for the Financial Market.
There are laws and regulations that address foreign currency and exchange rates in every country in which we operate. In certain countries where we operate, we need governmental authorization to pay invoices to a foreign supplier or send money abroad due to foreign exchange restrictions. See “Item 1A. Risk factors—Risks related to doing business in Latin America—Local currencies used in the conduct of our business are subject to depreciation, volatility and exchange controls” for more information.
We are also the beneficiary of certain tax regulations in various jurisdictions in which we operate.
The Argentine Industry Secretary approved our main Argentine subsidiary as beneficiary of the Argentine Regime to promote the software industry. Benefits of receiving this status included a relief of 60% of total income tax related to software development activities and a 70% relief in payroll taxes related to software development activities. These tax benefits expired on December 31, 2019. On June 2019, a new law was enacted by the Argentine government (knowledge-based economy promotional regime), which established new tax benefits intended to take effect as of January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2029, for certain companies that meet specific criteria. Such law allowed companies, that at the time were benefiting from the old software development law, to apply for tax benefits under the new law. On January 20, 2020, a new resolution issued by Argentina’s Ministry of Productive Development suspended the application of the new law until new provisions were issued. In October 2020, Argentina enacted Law 27,570, which amended the new law by imposing new requirements to qualify for the promotional regime and modified certain benefits; additional regulations were issued in January and February 2021. The Company is currently assessing whether it will be eligible to benefit from the new law and related tax benefits, and such eligibility remaining subject to Argentine government approval. Further regulations related to the application of the regime are expected to be released. See Item 8 of Part II, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data-Note 2-Summary of significant accounting policies-Income taxes.”
We are also subject to significant data protection and privacy-related regulations in many of the jurisdictions in which we operate. Further, some jurisdictions in which we operate are considering imposing additional restrictions or regulations.
Segment and Geographic Information
For an analysis of financial information about our segments, see “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Reporting Segments and Geographic Information”, “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Description of Line Items—Net revenues” and Note 8, Segments to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report and incorporated by reference in this Item 1.
We are a Delaware corporation incorporated on October 15, 1999. Our registered office is located at 874 Walker Road, Suite C, Dover, Delaware. Our principal executive offices are located at Pasaje Posta 4789, 6th Floor, Buenos Aires, Argentina, C1430EKG.
Our Internet address is www.mercadolibre.com. Our investor relations website is investor.mercadolibre.com. We make available free of charge through our website our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to the SEC. Our sustainability report is available on our investor relations website. Our Corporate Governance Guidelines, Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, and the charters of the Audit Committee, the Compensation and the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee are also available on our website and are available in print to any stockholder upon request in writing to MercadoLibre, Inc., Attention: Investor Relations, Pasaje Posta 4789, 6th floor, Buenos Aires, Argentina, C1430EKG. Information on or connected to our website is neither part of nor incorporated into this report on Form 10-K or any other SEC filings we make from time to time.
Set forth below are the risks that we believe are material to our stockholders and prospective stockholders. You should carefully consider the following factors in evaluating our company, our properties and our business.
Risks related to our business
Our business depends on the continued growth of online commerce, the commercial and financial activity that our users generate on our platform and the availability and reliability of the Internet in Latin America.
Online commerce is still a developing market in Latin America. A significant portion of our business is based on an Internet platform for commercial and financial transactions in which almost all activity depends on our users and is therefore largely outside of our control. Except for our first party business, we do not choose which items will be listed, nor do we make pricing or other decisions relating to the products and services bought and sold on our platform. Our future revenues depend substantially on Latin American consumers’ and providers’ widespread acceptance and continued use of the Internet as a way to conduct commerce and to carry out specific financial transactions. For us to grow our user base successfully, more consumers and providers must accept and use new ways of conducting business and exchanging information. The price of personal computers and/or mobile devices and Internet access may limit our potential growth in certain areas or countries with low levels of Internet penetration and/or high levels of poverty. The infrastructure for the Internet in Latin America may not be able to support continued growth in the number of Internet users, their frequency of use or their bandwidth requirements.
Given that we operate in a business environment in Latin America that is different than the environment in which other e-commerce companies operate, the performance of such other e-commerce companies is not an indication of our future financial performance. Availability, transaction speeds, acceptance, interest and use of the Internet across Latin America are all critical to our growth and services and the occurrence of any one or more the above challenges to Internet usage could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We operate in a highly competitive and evolving environment.
The e-commerce and omnichannel retail, e-commerce services, and digital content and electronic devices industries are relatively new in Latin America, rapidly evolving and intensely competitive, and we expect competition to become more intense in the future. Barriers to entry are relatively low and current offline and new competitors, including small businesses who want to create and promote their own stores or platforms, can easily launch new sites at relatively low cost using software that is commercially available. Mercado Libre’s Marketplace currently competes with a number of companies, including traditional brick and mortar retailers, that have launched online offerings; online sales and auction services; other small services, including those that serve specialty markets; business-to-consumer online commerce services; and shopping comparison sites located throughout Latin America.
In many cases, companies that directly or indirectly compete with us provide Internet access. These competitors include incumbent telephone companies, cable companies, mobile communications companies and large Internet service providers. Some of these providers may take measures that could degrade, disrupt, or increase the cost of customers’ use of our services. For example, they could restrict or prohibit the use of their lines for our services, filter, block or delay the packets containing the data associated with our products, charge increased fees to us or our users for use of their lines to provide our services, or seek to charge us for our customers’ use of our services or receipt of our e-mails. Although we have not identified any providers that intend to take these actions, any interference with our services or higher charges for access to the Internet, could cause us to lose existing users, impair our ability to attract new users, limit our potential expansion and harm our revenue and growth.
Mercado Pago competes with existing online and offline payment methods, including, among others, banks and other providers of financial services, particularly credit and debit cards, checks, money orders, and electronic bank deposits; international and local online payments services; the use of cash, which is often preferred in Latin America; and offline funding alternatives such as cash deposit and money transfer services, person-to-person payment services and mobile card readers. Some of these services may operate at lower commission rates than Mercado Pago’s current rates and, accordingly, we are subject to market pressures with respect to the commissions we charge for Mercado Pago services. Any or all of these companies could create competitive pressures, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our competitors may respond to new or emerging technologies and changes in customer requirements faster and more effectively. They may devote greater resources to the development, promotion, and sale of products and services. Competing services tied to established banks and other financial institutions may offer greater liquidity and create greater consumer confidence in the safety and efficacy of their services. Established banks and other financial institutions currently offer online payments and those that do not yet provide such a service could quickly and easily develop it, including mobile phone carriers.
Larger, more well-established and well-financed companies may also acquire, invest in or enter into commercial relationships with competing businesses. Therefore, some of our competitors and potential competitors may be able to devote greater resources to marketing and promotional campaigns, adopt more aggressive pricing policies and devote substantially more resources to website and systems development than us, which could adversely affect us.
Our future success depends on our ability to expand and adapt our operations to meet rapidly changing industry and technology standards in a cost-effective and timely manner. These expansion efforts place, and are expected to continue to place, a significant strain on our management, operational and financial resources.
Rapid, significant, and disruptive technological changes impact the industries in which we operate, and we cannot predict the effects of technological changes on our business. Our success depends on our ability to develop and incorporate new technologies and adapt to technological changes and evolving industry standards; if we are unable to do so in a timely or cost-effective manner, our business could be harmed.
We plan to continue to expand our operations by expanding our services internationally and developing and promoting new and complementary services. We may have limited or no experience in our newer market segments. We may not succeed at expanding our operations in a cost-effective or timely manner, and our expansion efforts may not have the same or greater overall market acceptance as our current services. Furthermore, any new business or service that we launch that is not favorably received by users could damage our reputation and diminish the value of our brands. Similarly, a lack of market acceptance of these services or our inability to generate satisfactory revenues from any expanded services to offset their cost could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We must constantly add new hardware, update software, enhance and improve our billing and transaction systems, and add and train new engineering and other personnel to accommodate the increased use of our website and the new products and features we regularly introduce. This upgrade process is expensive, and the increasing complexity and enhancement of our website results in higher costs. Failure to upgrade our technology, features, transaction processing systems, security infrastructure, or network infrastructure to accommodate increased traffic or transaction volume or the increased complexity of our website could materially harm our business.
Our revenues depend on prompt and accurate billing processes. Our failure to grow our transaction-processing capabilities to accommodate the increasing number of transactions that must be billed on our website would materially harm our business and our ability to collect revenue.
We may also need to enter into relationships with various strategic partners, websites and other online service providers and other third parties necessary to our business. The increased complexity of managing multiple commercial relationships could lead to execution problems that can affect current and future revenues and operating margins. The expansion of our Mercado Pago business into new countries may also require a close commercial relationship with one or more local banks or other intermediaries, which may prevent, delay or limit the introductions of our services in such countries.
Our current and planned systems, procedures and controls, personnel and third party relationships may not be adequate to support our future operations. Our failure to manage growth effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The markets in which we operate are rapidly evolving and we may not be able to maintain our profitability.
As a result of the emerging nature and related volatility of the markets and economies in the countries in which we operate, the increased variety of services and products offered on our website and the rapidly evolving nature of our business, it is particularly difficult for us to forecast our revenues or earnings accurately. In addition, we have no backlog and substantially all of our net revenues for each quarter are derived from listing fees, optional feature fees, up-front fees, final value fees, commissions on Mercado Pago payments, finance and interest fees, sale of goods, shipping fees and advertising fees that are earned during that quarter. Our current and future expense levels are based largely on our investment plans and estimates of future revenues and are, to a large extent, fixed. We may not be able to adjust spending in a timely manner to compensate for any unexpected revenue shortfall. Accordingly, any significant shortfall in revenues relative to our planned expenditures would have an immediate adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Any delay or problem with operating or upgrading our existing information technology infrastructure could cause a disruption in our business and adversely impact our financial results.
Our ability to operate our business on a day-to-day basis largely depends on the efficient operation of our information technology infrastructure and our cloud providers, the largest of which is Amazon Web Services. We have been and are susceptible to hacking into our systems or other security breaches by unauthorized third parties. We are also susceptible to errors in connection with any systems upgrade or migration to a different hardware or software system, errors or incidents of our cloud providers, bugs or other problems for any of the software we use, either developed in-house or provided by third parties. Financial, regulatory, or other problems that might prevent these third parties from providing services to us or our users could reduce the number of listings on our websites or make completing transactions on our websites more difficult, which would harm our business. Any security breach at one of these companies could also affect our customers and harm our business.
Most of our systems for operating the Mercado Libre ecosystem (Mercado Libre, Mercado Pago, Mercado Envíos, etc.) run on public cloud systems, in several locations around the United States to ensure high availability and backup locations. We also run some of our legacy systems on computer hardware located at the facilities of the Cyxtera Datacenters in Sterling, Virginia. These systems (whether over the public cloud or at the datacenter) and operations are vulnerable to damage or interruption from earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, fires, and other natural disasters, power loss, computer viruses, telecommunication failures, physical or electronic break-ins, sabotage, intentional acts of vandalism, terrorism, and similar events.
The public cloud provider could also decide to close their facilities. Our disaster recovery plan may not be sufficient. We are working on developing an alternate cloud provider of hosting services but we are in an early stage and our systems are not fully redundant. Any steps that we may take to upgrade and improve the stability and efficiency of our information techonology may not be sufficient to avoid defects or disruptions in our technology infrastructure, which could cause a disruption in our business and adversely impact our financial results. We may have inadequate insurance coverage to compensate for any related losses. Any errors, defects, disruptions, interruptions, delays or cessation of service could result in significant disruptions to our business that could ultimately be more expensive, time consuming, and resource intensive than anticipated. Defects or disruptions in our technology infrastructure could adversely impact our ability to process transactions on our site or fulfill shipments, which could reduce our revenue, adversely affect our reputation with, or result in the loss of, user and negatively impact our financial results.
We are subject to extensive government regulation and oversight. Failure to comply with existing and future rules and regulations in the jurisdictions in which we operate could adversely affect the operations of one or more of our businesses in those jurisdictions.
Our business is subject to the laws, rules, regulations and policies in the countries in which we operate, as well as the legal interpretation of such regulations by administrative bodies and the judiciary of those countries, including, but not limited to, those listed below. Furthermore, because our services and products available worldwide, certain foreign jurisdictions may claim that we are required to comply with their laws. The expansion of our business may also result in increased regulatory oversight and enforcement, as well as licensing requirements.
Enforcement of, failure, or perceived failure to comply with these regulations could result in lawsuits, penalties, fines, forfeiture of significant assets, an outright or partial restriction on our operations, enforcement in one or more jurisdictions, additional compliance and licensure requirements, and force us to change the way we or our users do business, which could adversely affect the operations of our businesses in those jurisdictions.
In addition, our operations in most of the countries where we operate are subject to risks related to compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other applicable U.S. and other local laws prohibiting corrupt payments to government officials and other third parties.
There is uncertainty in many of the countries where we operate with respect to the liability of Internet service providers, such as ourselves, and how existing regulations governing issues such as e-commerce, electronic or mobile payments, information requirements for Internet providers, data collection, data protection, privacy, artificial intelligence and machine learning (e.g. in relation to risk analysis) anti-money laundering, taxation, reporting obligations, consumer protection and businesses in general apply to our type of Internet-based operations.This uncertainty could negatively affect our clients’ perception and use of our services and could result in significant expense should we have to defend cases in an unclear legal environment. Also, new laws and regulations could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation and financial condition.
Privacy and user Data Protection
We are subject to laws relating to the collection, use, storage and transfer of personal data about our providers, employees and, principally, our users, especially regarding financial data. We expect that these regulations will increase both in number and in the level of stringency, in ways we cannot predict, including with respect to evolving technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and blockchain technology. Should we fail to comply with these laws, which apply to our interactions with third-parties, transfers of information amongst our employees in the course of their work for us, our subsidiaries, and other parties with which we have commercial relations, we may be subject to significant penalties and negative publicity, which would adversely affect us.
Government and consumer protection agencies have in the past received a substantial number of complaints about both the Mercado Libre Marketplace and Mercado Pago. These complaints are small as a percentage of our total transactions, but they could become large in aggregate (absolute) numbers over time. From time to time, we are involved in disputes or regulatory inquiries that arise in the ordinary course of business. The number and significance of these disputes and inquiries have increased as our business has expanded. We are likely to receive new inquiries from regulatory agencies in the future, which may lead to actions against us,, and we may be subject to enforcement actions, injunctions, fines or penalties, civil damages or forced to change our operating practices in ways that could harm our business and cause us to incur substantial costs.
We receive scrutiny from various governmental agencies under competition laws in the countries where we operate. Some jurisdictions also provide private rights of action for competitors or consumers to assert claims of anti-competitive conduct. Other companies or governmental agencies may allege that our actions violate antitrust or competition laws, or otherwise constitute unfair competition. Contractual agreements with buyers, sellers, or other companies could give rise to regulatory action, antitrust investigations or litigation. Also, our business practices could give rise to regulatory action, antitrust investigations or litigation. Some regulators may perceive our business to have such a degree of market power that otherwise uncontroversial business practices could be deemed anticompetitive. Such claims and investigations, even if without foundation, typically are very expensive to defend, involve negative publicity and substantial diversion of Management time and effort, and could result in significant judgments against us.
Banking, Money Transmission and Domestic or Cross-Border Electronic Funds Transfer
A number of jurisdictions where we operate have enacted legislation regulating money transmitters and/or electronic payments or funds transfers. We are subject to regulation in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Uruguay and could be subject in the short term to new regulations in Colombia, that require or would require us to obtain regulatory authorizations to operate certain services provided by Mercado Pago and that would subject us to additional regulatory requirements.
If we fail to comply with money services laws or regulations or any tax regulations, or if we engage in an unauthorized banking or financial business, we could be subject to liability, forced to cease doing business with residents of certain countries, to change our business practices or to become a financial entity. Any change to our Mercado Pago business practices that makes the service less attractive to users or prohibits its use by residents of a particular jurisdiction could decrease the speed of trade on the Mercado Libre Marketplace, which would further harm our business. Even if we are not forced to change our Mercado Pago business practices, we could be required to obtain licenses or regulatory approvals that could be very expensive and time consuming, and we cannot assure that we would be able to obtain them in a timely manner or at all.
Mercado Pago is or may be subject to anti-money laundering laws and regulations that prohibit, among other things, its involvement in transferring the proceeds of criminal activities or impose obligations to provide certain information about transactions that have occurred in our platform, or about our users. Because laws and regulations differ in each of the jurisdictions where we operate, as we roll-out and adapt Mercado Pago in other countries, additional verification and reporting requirements could apply. These regulations requirements, as well as any future regulation and any additional restrictions imposed by credit card associations, could raise our Mercado Pago costs significantly and reduce the attractiveness of Mercado Pago. Failure to comply with anti-money laundering laws could result in significant criminal and civil lawsuits, penalties, and forfeiture of significant assets.
A number of jurisdictions where we operate have enacted legislation regulating shipping services. We believe we are not required to have a license under the existing statutes of Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay and Chile to operate Mercado Envios with its current structure. If we fail to comply with shipping services laws or regulations, or if we engage in an unauthorized shipping business, we could be subject to liability, forced to cease doing business with residents of certain countries, or to change our business practices or to become a postal entity. Any change to our Mercado Envios business practices that makes the service less attractive to customers or prohibits its use by residents of a particular jurisdiction could decrease the speed of trade on the Mercado Libre Marketplace, which would further harm our business. Even if we are not forced to change our Mercado Envios business practices, we could be required to obtain licenses or regulatory approvals that could be very expensive and time consuming, and we cannot assure that we would be able to obtain them in a timely manner or at all.
Sale, Storage and/or Transportation of Goods and Services
Laws specifying the scope of liability of providers of online services for the activities of their users through their online service are currently unsettled in most of the Latin American countries where we operate. Our policies prohibit the sale, storage and/or transport of certain items (both on our platform and/or in our fulfillment centers and/or through third party carriers providing services to Mercado Libre) and we have implemented various actions to monitor and exclude unlawful goods and services from our marketplaces
However, we are aware that certain goods, such as alcohol, tobacco, firearms, animals, adult material and other goods that may be subject to regulation by local or national authorities of various jurisdictions have been traded on the Mercado Libre Marketplace. We have at times been and may continue to be subject to fines for certain users’ sales of products that have not been approved by the government. We are also aware that certain goods expressly excluded from our shipping services pursuant to our policies were stored in our fulfillment centers and/or delivered through third-party carriers providing services to Mercado Libre. We cannot provide any assurances that we will successfully avoid civil or criminal liability for unlawful activities that our users carry out when using our services in the future. If we suffer potential liability for any unlawful activities of our users, we may need to implement additional measures to reduce our exposure to this liability, which may require, among other things, that we spend substantial resources and/or discontinue certain service offerings. Any costs that we incur as a result of this liability or asserted liability could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We may be liable for or experience reputational damage from the failure of users of our Marketplace to deliver merchandise or make required payments.
Our success depends largely upon sellers accurately representing and reliably delivering the listed goods and buyers paying the agreed purchase price. We have received in the past, and anticipate that we will receive in the future, complaints from users who did not receive the purchase price or the goods agreed to be exchanged, and regarding the quality or the partial or non-delivery of purchased items. While we can suspend the accounts of users who fail to fulfill their obligations to other users, we do not have the ability to force users to meet their obligations. We have tried to reduce our liability to buyers for unfulfilled transactions or other claims related to the quality of the purchased goods by offering a free Buyer Protection Program to buyers who meet certain conditions. In addition, we may be liable in Brazil under applicable regulation for fraud committed by sellers and losses incurred by buyers when purchasing items through our platform in Brazil. We expect to continue to receive communications from users requesting reimbursement or threatening or commencing legal action against us if no reimbursement is made, and as we expand the coverage of our Buyer’s Protection Program, the number and amount of reimbursements may increase. Effective customer service requires significant personnel expense and investment in developing programs and technology infrastructure to help customer service representatives carry out their functions. These expenses, if not managed properly, could significantly impact our profitability. Failure to manage or train our customer service representatives properly could compromise our ability to handle customer complaints effectively, and in turn, adversely affect our reputation and our customers’ confidence in us.
Any litigation related to unpaid or undelivered purchases or defective items could be expensive for us, divert Management’s attention and could result in increased costs of doing business. In addition, any negative publicity generated as a result of the fraudulent or deceptive conduct of any of our users could damage our reputation, diminish the value of our brands and negatively impact our results of operations.
We could face legal and financial liability for the sale of items that infringe on the intellectual property and distribution rights of others and for information and material disseminated through our platforms.
We have received in the past, and anticipate that we will receive in the future, complaints alleging that certain items listed or sold through the Mercado Libre Marketplace or Mercado Shops or using Mercado Pago, or delivered by Mercado Envios infringe third-party copyrights, trademarks and/or other IP rights. Content owners and other IP rights owners have been active in defending their rights against online companies, including us. Our user policy prohibits the sale of goods that may infringe third-party IP rights, and we may remove listings based on infringements of our policies and close accounts of any user who infringes third-party IP rights. Our Brand Protection Program allows any IP right owner, upon enrollment, to report and request the removal of any listing that infringes their IP rights. The program is public and available to any interested party, and registration is free. Despite these measures and our efforts to prevent IP infringements, we are not able to prevent all IP rights infringements, and some rights owners consider our efforts insufficient. In 2020, we have been included on the United States Trade Representative’s Notorious Market List for 2020 and the European Commission’s 2020 Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List. We anticipate that we may continue to be included in these or similar lists, and receive legal claims from content and IP owners alleging violations of their rights, which could result in substantial monetary awards, penalties or costly injunctions against us, as well as adversely affect our reputation. It is also possible that new laws and regulations may be adopted with respect to intermediaries’ liability or mandatory out-of-court procedures to solve any disputes related to intermediaries’ liability that could have a material adverse effect on our operations.
It is also possible that third parties could bring claims against us for defamation, libel, invasion of privacy, negligence, or other theories based on the nature and content of the materials disseminated through our platforms, particularly materials disseminated by our users. Other online services companies are facing several claims for this type of liability. If we or other online services providers are held liable or potentially liable for information carried on or disseminated through our platforms, we may have to pay monetary damages, be subject to enforcement actions, injuctions, fines or penalties, and it may have an adverse impact on our business model, including our level of exposure to liabily, and we may have to implement measures to reduce that exposure. Any measures we may need to implement may involve spending substantial resources and/or discontinuing certain services. Any costs that we incur as a result of liability or asserted liability could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, public attention to liability issues, lawsuits and legislative proposals could have an adverse impact on our business model and reputation, and subsequently have a negative impact on our business results.
Fraudulent activity by our users could negatively impact our operating results, brand and reputation and cause the use of services to decrease.
We are subject to the risk of fraudulent activity on our platforms by our users. Although we have implemented measures to detect and reduce the occurrence of fraudulent activities, there can be no assurance that these measures will be sufficient to accurately detect, prevent or deter fraud. As our marketplace sales grow, the cost of remediating for fraudulent activity, including customer reimbursements, may materially increase and could negatively affect our operating results. In addition, users’ fraudulent or potential illegal activities when using any platform we operate could expose us to civil or criminal liability and could have a material adverse effect on our financial performance, our business or reputation in the future.
Mercado Pago is susceptible to potentially illegal or improper uses, including, fraudulent and illicit sales, money laundering, bank fraud, fraud from means of payment entities, and online securities fraud. In addition, Mercado Pago’s service could be subject to unauthorized credit card use, identity theft, break-ins to withdraw account balances, employee fraud or other internal security breaches.
We incur losses from claims of customers who did not authorize a purchase, from buyer fraud and from erroneous transmissions. In addition to the direct costs of such losses, if they are related to credit card transactions and become excessive, they could result in Mercado Pago losing the right to accept credit cards for payment. If Mercado Pago is unable to accept credit cards, our business will be adversely affected given that credit cards are the most widely used method for funding Mercado Pago accounts. We have taken measures to detect and reduce the risk of fraud on Mercado Pago, such as running card security code (“CSC”) checks in some countries, requiring users to answer personal questions to confirm their identity, requiring users to confirm small debit amounts prior to authorizing high risk transactions, implementing caps on overall spending per users and data mining to detect potentially fraudulent transactions. However, these measures may not be effective against current and new forms of fraud. If these measures do not succeed, excessive charge-backs may arise in the future and our business will be adversely affected.
We are subject to security breaches or other confidential data theft from our systems, which can adversely affect our reputation and business.
A significant risk associated with e-commerce and communications is the secure transmission of confidential information over public networks. Our business involves the collection, storage, processing and transmission of customers’ personal data, including financial information. We rely on encryption and authentication necessary to provide the security and authentication technology to transmit confidential information securely, including customer credit card numbers and other account information. Advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries in the field of cryptography, or other events or developments may result in a compromise or breach of the technology that we use to protect customer transaction data.
The techniques used to obtain unauthorized, improper or illegal access to our systems, our data or our customers’ data, to disable or degrade service, or to sabotage systems are constantly evolving, have become increasingly complex and sophisticated, may be difficult to detect quickly, and often are not recognized until launched against a target. Unauthorized parties have and may continue to attempt to gain access to our systems or facilities through various means, including, among others, hacking into our systems or those of our customers, partners or vendors, or attempting to fraudulently induce our employees, customers, partners, vendors or other users of our systems into disclosing user names, passwords, payment card information or other sensitive information, which may in turn be used to access our information technology systems. Although we have developed systems and processes that are designed to protect our data and customer data and to prevent data loss and other security breaches, these security measures cannot provide absolute security. Our users have been and will continue to be targeted by parties using fraudulent “spoof” and “phishing” emails that appear to be legitimate emails sent by Mercado Libre or Mercado Pago or by a user of one of our businesses, but direct recipients to fake websites operated by the sender of the email or misstates that certain payment was credited in Mercado Pago and request that the recipient send the product sold or send a password or other confidential information. Our information technology and infrastructure have been and may continue to be vulnerable to cyberattacks, security breaches, and third parties may be able to access our customers’ personal or proprietary information and card data that are stored on or accessible through those systems. Our security measures may also be breached due to human error, malfeasance, system errors or vulnerabilities, or other irregularities.
Actual or perceived vulnerabilities or data breaches may lead to claims sanctions against us, subject us to investigations or liability, may compromise our reputation, diminish the value of our brands and discourage use of our websites. We also expect to spend significant additional resources to protect against security or privacy breaches, and may be required to address problems caused by breaches. Additionally, while we maintain insurance policies, our current insurance policies may not be adequate to reimburse us for losses caused by security breaches, and we may not be able to collect fully, if at all, under these insurance policies. Some of our systems have experienced past security breaches and, although they did not have a material adverse effect on our operating results or reputation, there can be no assurance of a similar result in the future. We cannot assure you that our security measures will prevent security breaches or that failure to prevent them will not have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and reputation. In addition, any breaches of network or data security of companies we acquire or of our customers, partners or vendors, including parties that provide services to us or to our customers, could have similar negative effects.
Our revenues depend substantially on final value fees, up-front fees, fees related to our payment solution and credits revenues, sale of goods and shipping and advertising fees.
Our revenues currently depend primarily on final value fees, up-front fees, fees related to our payment solution and credits business, sale of goods and shipping and advertising fees. If market conditions force us to substantially lower our mentioned fees or if we fail to continue to attract new buyers and sellers, and if we are unable to effectively diversify and expand our sources of revenue, our profitability, results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
We are subject to consumer trends and could lose revenue if certain items become less popular.
Our future revenues depend on continued demand for the types of goods that users list on the Mercado Libre Marketplace or pay with Mercado Pago on or off the Mercado Libre Marketplace. The popularity of certain categories of items, such as computer and electronic products, cellular telephones, toys, apparel and sporting goods, among consumers may vary over time due to perceived availability, subjective value, and trends of consumers and society in general. A decline in the demand for or popularity of certain items sold through the Mercado Libre Marketplace without an increase in demand for different items could reduce the overall volume of transactions on our platforms, resulting in reduced revenues.
In addition, certain consumer “fads” may temporarily inflate the volume of certain types of items listed on the Mercado Libre Marketplace, placing a significant strain on our infrastructure and transaction capacity. These trends may also cause significant fluctuations in our operating results from one quarter to the next.
Manufacturers may limit distribution of their products by dealers, prevent dealers from selling through us or encourage governments to limit e-commerce.
Manufacturers may attempt to enforce minimum resale price maintenance arrangements to prevent distributors from selling on our websites or on the Internet generally, or at prices that would make our site attractive relative to other alternatives. Increased competition or anti-Internet distribution policies could result in reduced operating margins, loss of market share and diminished value of our brand. In order to respond to changes in the competitive environment, we may, from time to time, make pricing, service or marketing decisions or acquisitions that may be controversial with and lead to dissatisfaction among some of our sellers, which could reduce activity on our websites and harm our profitability.
Inventories risk may adversely affect our operating results.
We are exposed to inventories risks that may adversely affect our operating results because of seasonality, new product launches, quick changes in product cycles and pricing, defective products, changes in user demand and user spending patterns, changes in consumer tastes with respect to our products, spoilage, and other factors. We strive to predict these trends, as overstocking or understocking products we sell could lead to lower sales, missed opportunities, and excessive markdowns, each of which could have a material impact on our business and operating results. Moreover, once we launch a new product, it may be difficult to determine appropriate product selection, and accurately forecast demand which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Our failure to manage Mercado Pago and Mercado Fondo users’ funds properly would harm our business.
Our ability to manage and account accurately for Mercado Pago and Mercado Fondo users’ funds requires a high level of internal controls. As Mercado Pago and Mercado Fondo continue to grow, we must strengthen our internal controls accordingly. Mercado Pago and Mercado Fondo’s success requires significant consumer confidence in our ability to handle large and growing transaction volumes and amounts of customer funds. Any failure to maintain necessary controls or to properly manage customer funds could severely reduce customer use of Mercado Pago and Mercado Fondo.
We rely on banks or payment processors to fund transactions, and changes to credit card association fees, rules or practices may adversely affect our business.
Mercado Pago relies on banks or payment processors to process the funding of Mercado Pago transactions and Mercado Libre Marketplace collections, and must pay a fee for this service. From time to time, card associations may increase the interchange fees they charge for each transaction using one of their cards. The card processors of Mercado Pago and the Mercado Libre Marketplace have the right to pass any increases in interchange fees on to us as well as increase their own fees for processing. These increased fees increase the operating costs of Mercado Pago, reduce our profit margins from Mercado Pago operations and, to a lesser degree, affect the operating margins of the Mercado Libre Marketplace.
We are also subject to, or required by processors to comply with card association operating rules. The card associations and their member banks set and interpret the card rules. Some of those member banks compete with Mercado Pago. Card companies could adopt new operating rules or re-interpret existing rules that we or Mercado Pago’s processors might find difficult or even impossible to follow. As a result, we could lose our ability to provide Mercado Pago customers the option of using debit or credit cards to fund their payments and MercadoLibre users the option to pay their fees using a debit or credit card. If Mercado Pago were unable to accept credit cards, our Mercado Pago business would be materially adversely affected.
We could lose the right to accept credit cards or pay fines if card processors determine that users are using Mercado Pago to engage in illegal or “high risk” activities or if users generate a large amount of chargebacks. Accordingly, we are continually working to prevent “high risk” merchants from using Mercado Pago. Additionally, we may be unable to access financing in the credit and capital markets at reasonable rates to fund our Mercado Pago operations and for that reason our profitability and total payments volume could materially decline.
The failure of the financial institutions with which we conduct business may have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
If the condition of the financial services industry deteriorates or becomes weakened for an extended period of time, any of the following factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition:
Disruptions to the capital markets or the banking system may materially adversely affect the value of investments or bank deposits we currently consider safe or liquid. We may be unable to find suitable alternative investments that are safe, liquid, and provide a reasonable return. This could result in lower interest income or longer investment horizons;
We may be required to increase the installment and financing fees we charge to customers for purchases made in installments or cease offering installment purchases altogether, each of which may result in a lower volume of transactions completed;
We may be unable to access financing in the credit and capital markets at reasonable rates in the event we find it desirable to do so. Due to the nature of our Mercado Pago and Mercado Libre Marketplace businesses, we generate high credit cards receivable, consumer and merchant loan, and consumer credit balances that from time to time we sell to financial institutions, and accordingly, lack of access to credit or significant changes to the terms of any existing credit, or bank liquidations could cause us to experience severe difficulties; and
The failure of financial institution counterparties to honor their obligations to us under credit instruments could jeopardize our ability to rely on and benefit from those instruments. Our ability to replace those instruments on the same or similar terms may be limited under difficult market conditions.
A rise in interest rates may negatively affect our Mercado Pago payment volume.
In each of Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay and Peru we offer users the ability to pay for goods purchased in installments using Mercado Pago. In 2020 and 2019, installment payments represented 27.8% and 40.2%, respectively, of Mercado Pago’s payment volume, including transactions on and off the Mercado Libre Marketplace. To facilitate the offer of the installment payment feature, from time to time we pay interest to discount credit card coupons or we securitize credit card coupons through trusts. In all of these cases, if interest rates increase, we may have to raise the installment fees we charge to users which would likely have a negative effect on Mercado Pago’s total payment volume.
Changes in Mercado Pago’s funding mix could adversely affect Mercado Pago’s results.
Mercado Pago pays significant transaction fees when customers fund payment transactions using certain credit cards or through unaffiliated entities, nominal fees when customers fund payment transactions from their bank accounts in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, and no fees when customers fund payment transactions from an existing Mercado Pago account balance. Senders funded 37.5% and 63.4% of Mercado Pago’s payment volume, including transactions on and off the Mercado Libre Marketplace, using credit cards during 2020 and 2019, respectively (either in a single payment or in installments), and Mercado Pago’s financial success will remain highly sensitive to changes in the rate at which its senders fund payments using credit cards. Customers may prefer credit card funding rather than bank account transfers for a number of reasons, including the ability to pay in installments in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, the ability to dispute and reverse charges if merchandise is not delivered or is not as described, the ability to earn frequent flyer miles or other incentives offered by credit cards, the ability to defer payment, or a reluctance to provide bank account information to us. Also, in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, senders may prefer to pay by credit card without using installments to avoid the associated financial costs resulting in lower revenues to us.
Changes in Mercado Pago’s ticket mix could adversely affect Mercado Pago’s results.
The transaction fees Mercado Pago pays in connection with certain payment methods are fixed regardless of the ticket price, and certain costs incurred in connection with the processing of credit card transactions are also fixed. Currently, Mercado Pago charges a fee calculated as a percentage of each transaction. If Mercado Pago receives a larger percentage of low ticket transactions, our profit margin may erode, or we may need to raise prices, which, in turn, may affect the volume of transactions.
Our Mercado Credito solution exposes us to additional risks.
Our Mercado Credito solution is offered to certain merchants and consumers, and the financial success of this product depends on the effective management of the credit related risk. To assess the credit risk of a merchant and/or consumer seeking a loan under the Mercado Credito solution, we use, among other indicators, a risk model internally developed, as a credit quality indicator to help predict the merchants and/or consumer’s ability to repay the principal balance and interest related to the credit. This risk model may not accurately predict the creditworthiness of a merchant and/or consumer due to inaccurate assumptions about the particular merchant and/or consumer or the economic environment or limited product history, among other factors. The accuracy of the risk model and our ability to manage credit risk related to our Mercado Credito solution may also be affected by legal or regulatory changes (e.g., bankruptcy laws and minimum payment regulations), competitors’ actions, changes in consumer behavior, obtain funding resources, changes in the economic environment and other factors.
Like other businesses with significant exposure to credit losses, we face the risk that Mercado Credito merchants and consumers will default on their payment obligations, making the receivables uncollectible and creating the risk of potential charge-offs.
The funding and growth of our Mercado Credito business is directly related to interest rates; a rise in interest rates may negatively affect our Mercado Credito business and results of operations.
We face significant risks related to the ongoing reliability of our logistics network and shipping service.
In Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay and Chile, we offer users our Mercado Envios shipping service through integration with local carriers and our own transportation systems. To achieve economies of scale, drive down shipping costs and eliminate friction for buyers and sellers, we generally pay local carriers directly for their shipping costs, and then we decide how much of those costs we transfer to our customers. The decision to raise the shipping fees we charge to users may have a negative effect on Mercado Envios’s shipping volume, and the decision not to do that may result in increased in operating costs of Mercado Envios which could generate net losses in our commerce operations.
We rely on a number of local carriers to receive the inventories of third parties and ship orders to customers. The unavailability of the services of local carriers because of unfavorable contractual or commercial terms or performance problems or any other difficult (i.e. trackers’ strike) experienced by the local carriers could negatively affect our ability to provide shipping services to our customers, which could in turn have a material adverse effect on our shipping service, operating results, and financial condition. Moreover, our ability to receive the inventories of third parties efficiently and ship orders to customers also may be negatively affected by natural or man-made disasters, extreme weather, geopolitical events and security issues, labor or trade disputes, and similar events which could have a material adverse effect on our shipping service, operating results, and financial condition.
Failure to successfully operate our fulfillment network may also negatively affect our business.
Through our logistics solution, Mercado Envios, we offer sellers on our platform fulfillment and warehousing services, including maintaining inventories of third parties that sell products through our platform. As we continue to add fulfillment centers, our fulfillment network may become more complex, and the operation of such centers may present significant challenges including an increased complexity of tracking inventories and operating our fulfillment network. Our failure to accurately forecast customer demand and properly handle inventories could result in excess or insufficient fulfillment capacity, an inability to optimize platform fulfillment, unexpected costs and adversely affect our reputation or results of operations. We offer to sellers a free Fulfillment Protection Program, for any damage or loss of seller’s inventories as resulted of using our fulfillment network service, subject to certain conditions. We may in the future receive additional requests from sellers requesting reimbursement or threatening legal action against us if we do not reimburse them, the result of which could materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.
We may not be able to adequately protect and enforce our intellectual property rights. We could potentially face claims alleging that our technologies infringe the property rights of others.
We regard the protection of our IP rights as critical to our future success and rely on a combination of copyright, trademark and trade secret laws and contractual restrictions to establish and protect our proprietary rights in our products and services. We have entered into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and certain contractors, and non-disclosure agreements with our employees and certain suppliers and strategic partners for that purpose. We cannot assure you that these contractual arrangements or the other steps that we have taken or will take in the future to protect our IP will prove sufficient to prevent misappropriation of our technology, prevent counterfeit sale of our products, or deter independent third-parties from developing similar or competing technologies.
We pursue the registration of our intangible assets in each country where we operate, in the United States and in certain other countries worldwide. Effective IP protection may not be available or granted to us by the appropriate regulatory authority in every country in which our services are made available online. We cannot assure you that we will always succeed in obtaining the IP protection we need. If we are not successful, MercadoLibre’s ability to protect its brands in against third-party infringers would be compromised and we could face claims by any future trademark owners. Any claims relating to these issues, whether meritorious or not, could cause us to enter into costly royalty and/or licensing agreements. If any of these claims against us are successful we may also have to modify our brand name in certain countries. Any of these circumstances could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We have licensed in the past, and expect that we may license in the future, certain of our proprietary rights, such as trademarks or copyrighted material, to third parties. While we attempt to ensure that our licensees maintain the quality of the Mercado Libre brand, our licensees may take actions that could affect the value of our proprietary rights or reputation, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
To date, we have not been notified that our technology or products infringes on the proprietary rights of third parties, but third parties may claim infringement on our part with respect to past, current or future technologies or features of our services or of our products. For instance, third parties’ claims may arise if, although it would be inconsistent with our Code of Ethics, our employees include third parties’ software without their authorization. We expect that participants in our markets will be increasingly subject to infringement claims as the number of services and competitors in the e-commerce segment grows. Any of these claims could be expensive and time consuming to litigate or settle and could have a material adverse effect upon our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We may not be able to secure licenses for technologies on which we rely.
We rely on certain technologies that we license from third parties that supply key database technology, operating system and specific hardware components for our services. We cannot assure you that these technology licenses will continue to be available to us on commercially reasonable terms. If we were not able to make use of this technology, we would need to obtain substitute technology that may be of lower quality or performance standards or at greater cost, which could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. Although we generally have been able to renew or extend the terms of contractual arrangements with these service providers on acceptable terms, we cannot assure you that we will continue to be able to do so in the future.
Problems that affect our service providers could potentially adversely affect us as well.
A number of parties provide services to us or to our users. These services include the hosting of our servers, shipping and the postal and payments infrastructures that allow users to deliver and pay for goods and services, in addition to paying their Mercado Libre Marketplace bills. Financial, regulatory, or other problems that might prevent these companies from providing services to us or our users could reduce the number of listings on our websites or make completing transactions on our websites more difficult, which would harm our business. Any security breach at one of these companies could also affect our customers and harm our business.
We may not realize benefits from recent or future strategic acquisitions of businesses, technologies, services or products despite their costs in cash and dilution to our stockholders.
We intend to continue to acquire businesses, technologies, services or products, as appropriate opportunities arise. We may not, however, be able to identify, negotiate or finance such future acquisitions successfully or at favorable valuations, or to effectively integrate these acquisitions with our current business. The process of integrating an acquired business, technology, service or product into our business may result in unforeseen operating difficulties and expenditures, and may generate unforeseen pressures and/or strains on our organizational culture.
Acquisitions could result in potentially dilutive issuances of equity securities, the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities and/or amortization expenses related to intangible assets and impairment of goodwill, which could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. Any future acquisitions might require us to obtain additional equity or debt financing, which might not be available on favorable terms, or at all. If debt financing for potential future acquisitions is unavailable, we may determine to issue shares of our common stock or preferred stock in connection with such an acquisition and any such issuance could result in the dilution of our common stock.
We depend on key personnel, the loss of which could have a material adverse effect on us.
Our performance depends substantially on the continued services and on the performance of our senior management and other key personnel. Our ability to retain and motivate these and other officers and employees is fundamental to our performance.
Our future success also depends on our ability to identify, attract, hire, train, retain and motivate other highly skilled technical, managerial, marketing and customer service personnel. Competition for these personnel is intense, and we cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully attract and retain sufficiently qualified personnel.
We may have inadequate business insurance coverage, which would require us to spend significant resources in the event of a disruption of our services or other contingency.
Even though we have business insurance coverage to face a disruption of our services, it may be inadequate to compensate for our losses. Any business disruption, litigation, system failure or natural disaster may cause us to incur substantial costs and divert resources, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation and financial condition.
The outbreak of COVID-19 may have in the future a negative impact on the global economy and on our business, operations and results.
The global spread of COVID-19, a novel strain of coronavirus, has resulted in government authorities and businesses throughout the world implementing numerous measures to contain or mitigate it, including travel bans and restrictions, quarantines, shelter in place and lock-down orders and business limitations and shutdowns. These measures have had dramatic adverse consequences for the global economy, including on demand, operations, supply chains and financial markets, and have significantly contributed to deteriorating macroeconomic conditions. The full extent of the nature and scope of the consequences to date are difficult to evaluate precisely, and their future course is impossible to predict with confidence.
The COVID-19 crisis had, at the beginning of the lockdowns, negative effect on our business, and may in the future have, negative effects affecting our level of operations, consumer buying trends, and consequently, our net revenues. The factors adversely affecting our operations include, but are not limited to, lockdowns imposed by Latin American governments that have restricted merchants from operating resulting at times, in our logistics business, in order backlogs and cancellations for orders delivered through drop ship and cross-docking networks; lower foot traffic in physical retail that has caused Mercado Pago to experience at times a deceleration in the number of payments processed, resulting in lower mobile point of sale and QR total payment volume growth and; weak macro-economic conditions in certain countries in which the Company operates, coupled with devaluations of certain local currencies in those countries against the U.S. dollar, which could cause a decline in year-over-year net revenues as measured in U.S. dollars.
The future impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our business, operations, or financial results is uncertain and will depend on numerous evolving factors that we cannot predict, including, but not limited to the duration, scope, and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic; the speed of availability and distribution of vaccines or other treatments in the countries where we operate; disruption of our logistics network; disruption or delay of the activity of our merchants; an unexpected shift in consumer behavior; the impact of travel bans, work-from-home policies, or shelter-in-place orders; the temporary or prolonged shutdown of manufacturing facilities or retail items availability and decreased retail traffic; staffing shortages; general economic, financial, and industry conditions, particularly conditions relating to liquidity, financial performance, and related credit issues in the retail sector, which may be amplified by future effects of COVID-19 new waves; effectiveness of government stimulus programs; the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the national and global economy, including on consumer confidence and spending, financial markets and the
availability of credit for us, our suppliers and our customers; and increased cyber and payment fraud risk related to COVID-19, as cybercriminals attempt to profit from the disruption in light of increased online-banking, e-commerce and other online activity.
A sustained or prolonged COVID-19 new outbreak, a resurgence or the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus for which current vaccines may be less effective, could exacerbate the factors described above and intensify the impact on our business. In addition, if the future potential adverse effects of the COVID-19 outbreak are sustained, they could have accounting consequences, such as impairments of fixed assets or goodwill. It could also affect our ability to execute our expansion plans or invest in products and development. The resumption of economic activity and business operations to pre-pandemic levels may be delayed or constrained by lingering effects on our merchants and consumers. Accordingly, these factors may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, even after the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided.
Our business has benefitted from the shift from in-store shopping and traditional in-store payment methods (e.g., credit cards, debit cards, cash) towards e-commerce and online payments that was accelerated by the COVID-19 outbreak. To the extent that consumer preferences revert to pre-COVID-19 behaviors as mitigation measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 are eased or lifted, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely impacted.
The COVID-19 outbreak has required and is likely to continue to require management to devote time and attention, as well as increased investments of resources across our enterprise, including as a result of our continued efforts to monitor the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic and any additional measures we may have to take to comply with the rapidly changing regulations of the countries in which we operate. The spread of COVID-19 has caused us to implement modifications to our business practices, including work-from-home policies and strict health and safety precautions for our offices and fulfillment centers. These modifications to our business practices, which may continue for an extended period of time, and subsequent reintroduction into the workplace could pose operational risk, increase cybersecurity risk, strain our business continuity plans, negatively impact productivity, give rise to claims by employees, and impair our ability to manage our business or otherwise adversely affect our business. Additionally, COVID-19 could negatively affect our ability to operate effective internal controls over financial reporting given that a significant number of our employees are required to work from home and therefore new or modified processes, procedures, and controls could be required to respond to changes in our business environment and practices. We may take further actions as may be required by government authorities or that we determine are in the best interests of our employees, customers, and business partners. There is no certainty that those measures will be sufficient to mitigate the risks posed by COVID-19 or will otherwise be satisfactory to government authorities.
We previously identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting. If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls over financial reporting in the future, any material weakness in the future could result in loss of investor confidence and adversely affect our business or stock price.
We reported in Part II, Item 9A of Amendment N° 1 to our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019 filed with the SEC on December 23, 2020 that we identified material weaknesses in our Risk Assessment, Monitoring, Information and Communication and in Control Activities relating our credit cards and other means of payments account.
Remediation of the material weaknesses does not provide assurance that our internal control over financial reporting will continue to operate properly. If we are unable to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures, our ability to record, process and report financial information accurately, and to prepare financial statements within required time periods, could be adversely affected. Any material weaknesses identified in the future could adversely affect investor confidence in our financial statements and adversely affect our business or stock price.
There are risks associated with our indebtedness.
The terms of our senior unsecured notes issued in January 2021 contain, and any debt instruments we enter in the future may contain, covenants that restrict or could restrict, among other things, our business and operations. Failure to pay amounts due under a debt instrument or breach any of its covenants may result in the acceleration of the indebtedness (subject in certain cases to a grace or cure period). Moreover, any such acceleration and required repayment of, or default in respect of, any of our indebtedness could, in turn, constitute an event of default under other debt instruments, thereby resulting in the acceleration and required repayment of other indebtedness we may have. Any of these events could materially adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition.
In addition, changes by any rating agency to our outlook or credit rating could negatively affect the value of both our debt and equity securities and increase our borrowing costs. If our credit ratings are downgraded or other negative action is taken, the interest rates payable by us under our indebtedness may increase. In addition, any downgrades to our credit ratings may affect our ability to obtain additional financing in the future and the terms of any such financing. Any of these factors could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
The conditional conversion feature of the 2028 Notes, if triggered, may adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
In the event the conditional conversion feature of the 2028 Notes is triggered, holders of the outstanding 2028 Notes will be entitled to convert the outstanding 2028 Notes at any time during specified periods at their option. If one or more holders elect to convert their 2028 Notes, and even though our current intention is to satisfy our conversion obligation by delivering shares of our common stock (and cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we can decide to settle a portion or all of our conversion obligation through the payment of cash, which could
adversely affect our liquidity. In addition, even if holders do not elect to convert their 2028 Notes, we could be required under applicable accounting rules to reclassify all or a portion of the outstanding principal of the Notes as a current rather than long-term liability, which would result in a material reduction of our net working capital.
Risks related to doing business in Latin America
We face the risk of political and economic crises, instability, terrorism, civil strife, labor conflicts, expropriation and other risks of doing business in emerging markets.
We conduct our operations in emerging market countries in Latin America, which have historically experienced uneven periods of economic growth, as well as recession, periods of high inflation and economic instability. Economic and political developments in these countries, including future economic changes or crises (such as inflation, currency devaluation or recession), government deadlock, political instability, terrorism, civil strife, changes in laws and regulations, labor conflicts, expropriation or nationalization of property, and exchange controls could impact our operations or the market value of our common stock and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Currently, as a consequence of adverse economic conditions in global markets due to COVID-19 pandemic and lower demand for commodities, many Latin American economies have slow rates of growth, and some have entered recessions. The duration and severity of this slowdown is hard to predict and could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Our employees in Brazil and some of our employees in Argentina and Uruguay are currently represented by a labor union and employees in other Latin American countries may eventually become unionized. We may incur increased payroll costs and reduced flexibility under labor regulations if unionization in other countries were to occur, any of which may negatively impact our business. In addition, we could be affected by conflicts between unions which claim representation of our employees that could generate additional payroll costs and labor conflicts.
Although economic conditions may differ from one country to another, we cannot assure you that events in one country alone will not adversely affect our business, financial condition or the market value of our common stock.
Latin American governments have exercised and continue to exercise significant influence over the economies of the countries where we operate. This involvement, as well as political and economic conditions, could adversely affect our business.
Governments in Latin America frequently intervene in the economies of their respective countries and occasionally make significant changes in policy and regulations. Governmental actions to control inflation and other policies and regulations have often involved, among other measures, price controls, currency devaluations, capital controls and limits on imports. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be adversely affected by changes in government policies or regulations, including such factors as: exchange rates and exchange control policies; inflation rates; interest rates; tariff and inflation control policies; price control policies; import duties and restrictions; liquidity of domestic capital and lending markets; electricity rationing; tax policies, including royalty, tax increases and retroactive tax claims; and other political, diplomatic, social and economic developments in or affecting the countries where we operate.
Reduced foreign investment in any of the countries where we operate may have a negative impact on such country’s economy, affecting interest rates and the ability of companies such as ours to access financial markets.
Local currencies used in the conduct of our business are subject to depreciation, volatility and exchange controls.
The currencies of many countries in Latin America, including Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, which together accounted for 94.4% and 95.5% of our net revenues for 2020 and 2019, respectively, have experienced volatility and significant devaluations in the past. Currency movements, as well as higher interest rates, have materially and adversely affected the economies of many Latin American countries, including countries which account, or are expected to account, for a significant portion of our revenues. The depreciation of local currencies creates inflationary pressures that may have an adverse effect on us and generally restricts access to the international capital markets. For example, the devaluation of the Argentine Peso has had a negative impact on the ability of Argentine businesses to service their foreign currency denominated liabilities, led to high inflation, significantly reduced real wages, had a negative impact on businesses whose success is dependent on domestic market demand, and adversely affected the government’s ability and private companies to service its foreign debt obligations . On the other hand, the appreciation of local currencies against the U.S. dollar may lead to the deterioration of public accounts and the balance of payments of the countries where we operate, and may reduce export growth in those countries.
Because we conduct our business outside the United States and receive almost all of our revenues in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, but report our results in U.S. dollars, we face exposure to adverse movements in currency exchange rates. The results of operations in the countries where we operate are exposed to foreign exchange rate fluctuations as our financial results are translated from the applicable local currency into U.S. dollars upon consolidation. If the U.S. dollar weakens against foreign currencies, as has occurred in some years, the translation of these foreign-currency-denominated transactions will result in increased net revenues, operating expenses, and net income. Similarly, our net revenues, operating expenses, and net income will decrease if the U.S. dollar strengthens against the foreign currencies of countries in which we operate. For the year ended December 31, 2020, 55.2% of our net revenues were denominated in Brazilian Reais, 24.7% in Argentine Pesos and 14.5% in Mexican Pesos.
Certain of our subsidiaries may be subject to exchange control regulations that might restrict their ability to convert local currencies into U.S. dollars. Brazilian law provides that whenever there is a serious imbalance in Brazil’s balance of payments or reason to foresee a serious
imbalance, the Brazilian government may impose temporary restrictions on the remittance to foreign investors of the proceeds of their investments in Brazil.
Exchange controls implemented by the Argentine Government on the acquisition of U.S. dollars and other foreign currencies could have a material adverse impact on our operations, business, financial condition and results of operations.
The Argentine government has implemented certain measures that control and restrict the ability of companies and individuals to exchange Argentine Pesos for foreign currencies and their ability to remit foreign currency out of Argentina. Those measures include, among other things, the requirement to obtain the prior approval from the Argentine Central Bank, which could eventually restrict the ability to exchange Argentine pesos for other currencies, such as U.S. dollars. Moreover, restrictions also currently apply to the acquisition of any foreign currency for holding as cash within Argentina, and distribution of dividends abroad is allowed with certain limits and as long as certain requirements are met. Additionally, the Argentine government implemented a new tax with a rate of 30% on certain transactions involving the acquisition of foreign currency.
There can be no assurance that the Central Bank of Argentina or other government agencies will not increase such controls or restrictions, make modifications to these regulations or establish more severe restrictions on currency exchange, which could affect the ability to make payments to foreign creditors or providers and dividend payments to foreign shareholders. These exchange controls and restrictions could materially adversely affect the business, financial condition and results of operations of our Argentine subsidiaries and their ability to comply with their foreign currency obligations, and could significantly impact our ability to receive cash from our Argentine subsidiaries and our ability to meet our obligations, each of which could have a material adverse effect on our Company.
Our business, results of operations and financial condition are particularly sensitive to adverse developments in the Argentine economy.
Our results of operations and financial condition are particularly sensitive to business and economic conditions in Argentina. A significant part of our operations are conducted in Argentina, where our costs are incurred, for the most part, in Argentine Pesos.
In recent years, Argentina’s foreign debt rating has been downgraded on multiple occasions based on concerns regarding economic conditions and rising fears of increased inflationary pressures and their ability to serve their debt obligations. In 2020, the Argentine government restructured its foreign currency external bonds and its foreign currency bonds governed by Argentine law. However, as of the date of this annual report, the Argentine government still faces the challenge of restructuring its debt with the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) and the Paris Club. In August 2020, Argentina initiated formal discussions with the IMF with respect to its debt incurred under a precautionary Stand-By Arrangement pursuant to which, as of October 23, 2020, the government had drawn approximately $43.9 billion. After postponing until May 5, 2021 the $2.1 billion payment originally due on May 5, 2020, in April 2020, Argentina sent the Paris Club members a proposal to modify the existing terms of the settlement agreement that Argentina had reached with the Paris Club members on May 29, 2014. We cannot predict the outcome of these negotiations nor the impact of the result that those renegotiations will have in Argentina's ability to access international capital markets, in the Argentine economy or in our economic and financial situation This uncertainty may also adversely impact Argentina’s ability to attract capital.
The increasing level of inflation in Argentina has generated pressure for further depreciation of the Argentine Peso, which depreciated against the U.S. dollar by an approximately average of 41.7% in 2019 and 31.7% in 2020. If the current Argentine government is unable to address Argentina’s structural inflationary imbalances, the prevailing high rates of inflation may continue, which would have an adverse effect on Argentina’s economy.
Inflation in Argentina could increase our costs of operations and impact our financial condition and results of operations. Inflation rates may continue to increase in the future, and the effects and effectiveness of government measures to control inflation, adopted presently or in the future, remains uncertain.
Inflation and certain government measures to curb inflation may have adverse effects on the economies of the countries where we operate, our business and our operations.
Most Latin American countries have historically experienced, and may continue to experience in the future, high rates of inflation, which could lead to further government intervention in the economy, including the introduction of government policies that could adversely affect our results of operations. In countries with high rates of inflation, such as Argentina, which was determined to be highly inflationary, we may not be able to adjust the price of our services sufficiently to offset the effects of inflation on our cost structures. A high inflation environment would also have negative effects on the level of economic activity, employment and adversely affect our business and results of operations.
E-commerce transactions in Latin America may be impeded by the lack of secure payment methods.
Unlike in the United States, consumers and merchants in Latin America can be held fully liable for credit card and other losses due to third-party fraud. As secure methods of payment for e-commerce transactions have not been widely adopted in Latin America, both consumers and merchants generally have a relatively low confidence level in the integrity of e-commerce transactions. In addition, many banks and other financial institutions have generally been reluctant to give merchants the right to process online transactions due to these concerns about credit card fraud. Unless consumer fraud laws in Latin American countries are modified to protect e-commerce merchants and consumers, and until secure, integrated online payment processing methods are fully implemented across the region, our ability to generate revenues from e-commerce may be limited, which could have a material adverse effect on our Company.
Risks related to our shares
Provisions of our certificate of incorporation and Delaware law could inhibit others from acquiring us, prevent a change of control, and may prevent efforts by our stockholders to change our management.
Certain provisions of our certificate of incorporation and by-laws may inhibit a change of control that our board of directors does not approve or changes in the composition of our board of directors, which could result in the entrenchment of current management.
These provisions include: i) advance notice requirements for stockholder proposals and director nominations; ii) a staggered board of directors; iii) limitations on the ability of stockholders to remove directors other than for cause; iv) limitations on the ability of stockholders to own and/or exercise voting power over 20% of our common stock; v) limitations on the ability of stockholders to amend, alter or repeal our by-laws; vi) the inability of stockholders to act by written consent; vii) the authority of the board of directors to adopt a stockholder rights plan; viii) the authority of the board of directors to issue, without stockholder approval, preferred stock with any terms that the board of directors determines and additional shares of our common stock; and ix) limitations on the ability of certain stockholders to enter into certain business combinations with us, as provided under Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law.
These provisions may delay, defer or prevent a transaction or a change in control that might otherwise be in the best interests of our stockholders.
We may require additional capital in the future, and this additional capital may not be available on acceptable terms or at all.
We may need to raise additional funds in order to fund more rapid expansion (organically or through strategic acquisitions), to develop new or enhanced services or products, to respond to competitive pressures or to acquire complementary products, businesses or technologies. If we raise additional funds through the issuance of equity or convertible debt securities, the percentage ownership of our stockholders will be reduced, stockholders may experience additional dilution and the securities that we issue may have rights, preferences and privileges senior to those of our common stock. Additional financing may not be available on terms favorable to us or at all. If adequate funds are not available or are not available on acceptable terms, we may not be able to fund our expansion, take advantage of unanticipated acquisition opportunities, develop or enhance services or products or respond to competitive pressures. These inabilities could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Shares eligible for future sale may cause the market price of our common stock to drop significantly, even if our business is doing well.
The market price of our common stock could decline as a result of sales of a large number of shares of our common stock in the market in the future or the perception that these sales could occur. These sales, or the possibility that these sales may occur, also might make it more difficult for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and at a price that we deem appropriate.
Certain stockholders or entities controlled by them or their permitted transferees beneficially own shares of our common stock that have not been registered for resale with the SEC. The holders of these restricted shares may sell their shares in the public market from time to time without registering them, subject in the case of our affiliates, to certain limitations on the timing, amount and method of those sales imposed by regulations promulgated by the SEC. Holders of restricted stock will also have the right to cause us to register the resale of shares of common stock beneficially owned by them.
In the future, we may issue securities in connection with investments and acquisitions. The amount of our common stock issued in connection with an investment or acquisition could constitute a material portion of our then outstanding common stock.
It may be difficult to enforce judgments rendered against us in U.S. courts.
Although we are a Delaware corporation, our subsidiaries and most of our assets are located outside of the U.S. Furthermore, most of our directors, officers and some experts named in this report reside outside the U.S. As a result, it may not be possible to effect service of process within the U.S. upon these persons. Moreover, uncertainty exists as to whether courts outside of the U.S. would recognize or enforce judgments rendered against us, our subsidiaries, or the abovementioned persons in U.S. courts and predicated on the civil liability provisions of U.S. federal securities laws. In addition, any original or enforcement action in a court outside the U.S. will be subject to compliance with procedural requirements under applicable local law, including the condition that the judgment does not violate the public policy of the applicable jurisdiction.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
We lease facilities in different countries of Latin America that are used for administrative, marketing, product development and shipping activities purposes. All of our offices are occupied under lease agreements, except for three of our Argentine offices. The leases for our facilities provide for renewal options and after expiration, we can renegotiate the leases with our current landlords, or move to another location. From time to time we consider various alternatives related to our long-term facility needs. While we believe our existing facilities are adequate to meet our immediate needs, it may become necessary to lease or acquire additional or alternative space to accommodate any future growth.
For Mercado Envios, we operate fulfillment, cross docking and service centers in multiple locations in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Colombia.
Our headquarters are located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Our data centers are located in Virginia, United States, and occupy approximately 418 square meters. As of December 31, 2020, our owned and leased facilities (excluding data centers) provided us with square meters as follows:
Managed by third parties
Please refer to Item 8 of Part II, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data”—Note 14 Commitments and Contingencies—Litigation and Other Legal Matters.
MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Shares of our common stock, par value $0.001 per share, or our common stock, trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (“NASDAQ”) under the symbol “MELI.” As of December 31, 2020, the closing price of our common stock was $1,675.22 per share.
Holders of record
As of January 31, 2021, we had 152 holders of record of our common stock. This figure does not reflect the beneficial ownership of shares held in nominee name. The following table sets forth, for the indicated periods, the high and low per share sale prices for our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market: