Financial Cards and Payments in Latin America

February 2021

Financial cards and payments experienced a challenging year in 2020, with Coronavirus (COVID-19) speeding up the move away from cash, as consumers and retailers tried to avoid handling it, although overall consumer payments went into decline. Only debit cards and m-commerce were able to emerge relatively unscathed from the impact of the pandemic, with contactless payments to the fore. Current forecasts expect a return to positive growth in consumer payments from 2021.

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Key Findings

Cash still important in Latin America

Although cash was consistently losing out to alternative forms of payment over the historic period, it continues to be an important mode of payment. In fact, it is still the dominant means of payment in a number of countries in the region. Nevertheless, as the banked population continues to expand and more retailers install POS payment terminals, consumers are increasingly being won over by the convenience of cashless payment methods. Government policies are also encouraging the trend towards financial inclusion and cashless transactions.

Dip in consumer payments due to COVID-19

Consumer spending patterns in Latin America were significantly affected by the pandemic in 2020. When possible, people avoided handling cash for hygiene reasons, encouraging greater use of card and, in particular, contactless payments. Debit cards benefited from this, with people also looking to keep control of their spending in a difficult economic environment.

M-commerce continues to grow

M-commerce continues to gain momentum across the region, with the pandemic representing an ideal environment for further growth in this area. Increasing internet penetration and smartphone ownership are also driving the continued development of m-commerce, while the introduction and subsequent expansion of 5G networks across the region will provide additional impetus going forward.

Return to positive growth expected from 2021

In spite of the economic impact of COVID-19, the post-pandemic period is expected to see a return to positive annual growth rates for consumer payments from 2021. Card payments will overtake cash payments in the region during the forecast period, while electronic direct/ACH transactions will be particularly dynamic, albeit growing from a still relatively small base.

 

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Regional Overview

Latin America performing worse than all the other regions in 2020
Financial cards perform better than overall consumer payments
Positive growth expected again from 2021 after the major dip in 2020
Card transactions fall but still continue to take share from cash in 2020
Pandemic speeds up the move away from cash payments
Argentina helping to drive electronic payments in the region
Debit cards on the up, but charge and store cards are struggling
Debit cards the “winners” during the pandemic in 2020
M-commerce payments continue to register a dynamic performance

Leading Companies and Brands

Visa and Mastercard remain the dominant financial card operators
Visa and Mastercard with a wide presence across the region

Forecast Projections

Consumer payments should return to positive growth from 2021…
…but will not return to 2019 levels until the end of the forecast period
Debit cards manage to continue growing in 2020
Card payment transactions to record strong forecast period growth
Further dynamic growth expected for m-commerce
Mobile m-commerce a perfect payment method during a pandemic

Country Snapshots

Argentina: Market Context
Argentina: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Argentina: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Brazil: Market Context
Brazil: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Brazil: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Chile: Market Context
Chile: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Chile: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Colombia: Market Context
Colombia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Colombia: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Mexico: Market Context
Mexico: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Mexico: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Peru: Market Context
Peru: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Peru: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
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