The Hottest Area for Digital Payments? Latin America

Spearheaded by Brazil’s Pix, Latin America has become a global leader in digital payments. According to a new study from Ebanx, there’s still plenty of room for growth in this area.

Seven out of 10 Latin American adults have made or received payments through digital channels, per the Beyond Borders 2024 survey. That’s a significant increase from just four in 10 a decade ago. In the region’s seven largest markets, nearly 80% of the population has made online purchases.

Moreover, cash usage has declined in Latin America. A Mastercard survey across seven countries in Central and South America found that only 15% of respondents relied on cash for more than 75% of their monthly expenses, down from 25% before the pandemic. Nearly all small businesses (92%) in the region now accept at least one form of digital payment. 

Brazil’s Pix Leads the Way

Pix, Brazil’s instant payments system, is a leading reason for this accelerated growth. Since its launch in 2020, Pix garnered more than 160 million users. Digital commerce in Brazil experienced a significant surge during this period, growing from 68% penetration among adults in 2020 to 90% by 2023. As a result, Brazil’s digital marketplace, valued at $275 billion, now ranks fourth worldwide in digital buyers and captures more than half of Latin America’s market share.

The success has been so great that Brazil’s central bank is now exploring Pix’s global opportunities. At the Group of 20 Nations meeting in Sao Paulo in February, the central bank sought opportunities for Pix to interact with foreign platforms, with Italy showing interest in developing a bilateral agreement.

Room for Further Growth

There are reasons to think these trends will continue or even accelerate in the future. With digital commerce in Latin America already valued at $510 billion, Ebanx forecasts that the market will nearly double to reach nearly $1 trillion by 2026. Fueling this is the growth of Latin America’s middle class.

According to Payments & Commerce Market Intelligence figures cited in the Ebanx study, Latin America’s online buying population was about 351 million people in 2023, a 45% increase since 2020. The World Data Lab projects that by 2030, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Colombia are expected to see an influx of 32 million new digital consumers. Mexico, Colombia, and Peru are already seeing annual growth rates of digital buyers close to 30%.

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