While Latin America’s digital landscape is less well developed than other regions globally, most measures continue to improve, with Coronavirus (COVID-19) also having served to drive the digital landscape development in 2020. With locked-down consumers working and learning at home, as well as shopping and entertaining themselves a lot more in an online environment, they were increasingly turning to digital solutions during the pandemic.
The digital landscape received a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people working or learning from home. Organisations, companies, retailers and consumers were all forced to lean more on online services and the digital world in 2020, with this continuing into 2021. The surge in interest in remote bill payments, for example, was seen in UnDosTres, a new app launched specifically to help Mexican consumers complete their remote bill payments, reporting a 50% increase in transactions over the course of 2020.
Mobile internet access is becoming more commonplace in Latin America thanks to the increasing ubiquity of smartphones. Players are helping to drive this with attractive plans for consumers, meaning that many have their first internet access via their mobile. With digital payments encouraged for hygiene reasons during the pandemic, this also encouraged greater use of phones, as well as financial cards, for both remote and proximity payments.
Mercado Libre’s Mercado Pago digital payment system has been successful in targeting consumers who do not have a credit or debit card but wish to take advantage of non-cash payment methods. Mexico has a substantial unbanked population, comprising around 35% of the population, and Mercado Pago offers such people the opportunity to make purchases online.
Preparations are being made for 5G, with countries in the region hoping to have networks in place or being trialled in the coming years. However, 5G rollout is expected to be slower in Latin America than in some other regions, such as North America, which is expected to be well ahead of Latin America by 2025.
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