Payment trends in Latin America’s e-commerce for 2022

E-commerce in Latin America is expected to grow 30% every year through 2025 and new payment trends are emerging to foster this phenomenon.

João Paulo Notini
January 10, 2022
9 min read

2022 is definitely a promising year for Latin America’s payments scenario. In a hyper growth market, where e-commerce is expected to grow 30% every year through 2025, new payment methods emerged and are giving access to millions of people not only in the financial system, but the digital market as well.

To dive deep into the payment trends for 2022 we will cover in this article the main insights about PIX (the revolutionary Brazilian instant payment system) and other prominent Alternative Payment Methods (APMs) in key countries. You will also know about the popularization of digital wallets and the importance of debit cards and voucher payments for online purchases. 

Alternative Payment Methods on the rise

According to AMI, e-commerce already represents around 10% of the total retail sales in Latin America (LATAM) and it will not stop growing. Thus, a shift in payments has been occurring in the past few years. Take note that, although credit cards represent half of the volume of the total payments on e-commerce, APMs are on the rise. 

Looking at the graphic below, we can see that digital wallets currently represent 11% of the payments on e-commerce, while it has been growing 40% annually. Debit cards are also a notable payment method by having 13% of the volume and a 32% annual growth rate. 
Yet, what is even more surprising, is the share of bank transfers. These types of transactions account for 7% of the total share but are growing at a 107% rate per year. You might be wondering how is that possible, right? This is because  bank transfers include instant payments, which are booming in the region. Among these instant payments we can mention especially the PIX in Brazil and PSE in Colombia, which we will cover later in this article.

Cash based payments are being dethroned 

By 2018, cash based payments reigned in LATAM by having almost a sixth of the total online transactions volume and occupying the third position in the e-commerce payments ranking. Nowadays, however, according to our Beyond Borders Study, it declined to the fifth place and trends show that it will lose even more space. 

Since 2020, as we have mentioned before, APMs which include digital wallets and bank transfers gained traction in the region. So, in other words, we are seeing a digitization of alternative payments in LATAM, and this is something that will continue in 2022 and onwards. 
As you can see in the graphic below, debit cards and digital wallets have outranked cash-based methods in LATAM’s e-commerce.  In 2021, for example, digital wallets reached the top 4 payments on e-commerce. We can expect a greater decrease of cash based payments use for 2022 and, just like debit cards and digital wallets did, bank transfers can also surpass them in the ranking.

Now, after this overview about the region, let’s have a look at some of the key countries in LATAM’s e-commerce and how these payment trends have been taking place in each of them.

Brazil

As reported in our Beyond Borders Study, around 70% of e-commerce payments are made through cards in Brazil, and we can mention Mastercard and Visa as the most popular flags. Most Brazilians love to pay on installments and use BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) solutions. However, e-wallets (12%) and bank transfers (6%) are gaining traction. 

If we group debit cards, Boleto (a traditional Brazilian voucher payment), e-wallets and other APMs, they reached 31% of volume on Brazil’s e-commerce sales in 2021. Thus, APMs are something that will be crucial to Brazil’s e-commerce in 2022, especially because of PIX.

When we talk about Brazilian APMs, it is impossible to not mention PIX: Brazil’s new instant-payments system, which was launched in November 2020 by the Brazilian Central Bank, has already been adopted by more than 60% of all Brazilians. It has also served as an example of a successful instant payment system not only in LATAM, but the world.

PIX already surpassed credit card ownership in the country and some experts predict that it will replace Boleto ( usage in 1.5 years. So, what’s next? In November, 2021, the PIX Saque (Withdrawal) and PIX Troco (Change) were launched to complement the PIX system. Yet, a series of new features will be introduced in the following years, such as offline payments and installments option. More so, we can definitely expect something new for 2022. 

Mexico

Cards, mainly Visa, Mastercard and American Express represent 71% of all e-commerce payment volumes. Some years ago, before the pandemic, cash preference hit 90% levels, but, now, there is a rampant adoption of digital payments, with cash preference dropping to less than 50% in some scenarios (data retrieved from our Beyond Borders Study).

Due to the still high presence of cash in Mexico, one of the most popular APMs is OXXO, which represents around 20% of all online transactions there. OXXO is a voucher-based payment method with 18,000 stores in the country that allows Mexicans to pay bills and online purchases in-store with cash. 

There are, however, some digital platforms that can say it deserves an attention for 2022, such as:

Finally, it must be stated that installment payments are still very popular in Mexico, either through credit cards or other methods.

Argentina

Argentina is a country with a high presence of APM payments, accounting for 43% of the total volume, as per our Beyond Borders Study. Currently, 57% of all purchases are made from cards, while a surprisingly 30% comes from digital wallets. This high share of digital wallets payments are due to popular platforms such as Mercado Pago. 

Mercado Pago is a fintech arm of the e-commerce Mercado Libre. It has now multiple experiences within it, such as cashback, loyalty program, transportation tickets and consumer financing, besides the shopping experience itself. It became a dominant player in the Argentinian e-commerce market, pushing the digital wallets to a 30% share in the country – by far, the largest in LATAM.

Besides Mercado Pago, other famous digital payment methods to watch out in 2022 includes: 

Colombia

Similar to many other Latin American countries, our Beyond Borders Study showed that cards are dominant in Colombia (59%), but APMs are expected to remain high, currently accounting for 41% of the total volume. However, what is even more interesting is that 28% of all purchases on e-commerce are made through bank transfers. What is behind the phenomenon? The PSE. 

PSE (Pagos Seguros en Línea) is the most popular APM in Colombia and expected to keep increasing in 2022 and the following years. It was developed by ACH, which monitors and controls automated transactions between banks and financial institutions in the country. 

At the PSE’s interface, the consumer is redirected to their internet banking and can realize the transaction in real-time, without needing a credit card. Incredible, right? Despite PSE, two other products were launched by ACH and are increasing in popularity. These are SOI and Transfiya. 

We can also mention the direct payment methods, Efecty and SafetyPay, as trending APMs in Colombia for 2022. Yet, at last but not least, we must remember that cash based payments are still widely used there, and here is where Via Baloto comes in.

Baloto, just like Boleto in Brazil and OXOO in Mexico, allows cash-based e-commerce purchases through the issuance of a voucher. Around 85% of the Colombian population trust and use Via Baloto. When using a Via Baloto voucher, Colombians can also pay for online purchases in cash at 13,500 stores across the country. 

Chile

Chile is a country where cards still play a huge role on e-commerce payments since it accounts for 82% of all spendings, according to Beyond Borders data. It has VISA and Mastercard as the major players, followed by Redcompra (a product of Transbank that allows transactions with debit cards).

Another current very common payment method in Chile is Servipag. It is a local voucher payment method which is used by more than 40% of all Chileans. As it is the case with other voucher payments in LATAM, it is a great alternative for those that don’t own a card or have internet banking services to pay for online purchases. 

Conclusion

Credit and debit cards are still very popular payment methods in 2022. However, as we have shown you, there is a strong shift in LATAM’s e-commerce payment scenario, especially after the pandemic. Digital payments came to stay, and we will see an increasing popularization in the following years of APMs such as the instant payment systems: PIX and PSE. 

Cash based payments, meanwhile, are losing strength. Businesses must seek digital wallets, for example, which are gaining traction while many e-commerces are creating their own wallet, like Mercado Libre did with Mercado Pago. 

As we have reported here, there are some countries where voucher payments are still very popular due to the high unbanked population and low number of card owners. Yet, in conclusion, we can definitely say that 2022 will be another great year for innovative payment solutions that are able to give financial access and inclusion for Latin Americans.

Are you ready for 2022? How about having a complete overview at the other trends in Latin America through our annual study? Have a complete immersion on the region’s e-commerce and payments scenario through our 2021-2022  Beyond Borders: How digital payments and e‑commerce are gaining traction in Latin America – free study!

João Paulo Notini
João Paulo Notini
Senior Content Marketing | Cross-Border operations at EBANX

EBANX Retail & Marketplace Solution

It’s time to enhance your retail marketplace in Latin America with a tailored approach to payments.

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