Business

13 million Latin Americans made their first-ever online purchase in Q1

A study by Visa shows digital acceleration in the region as consumers flock to e-commerce and contactless payments

Photo: Screenshot/ Visa Website
  • Two out of 10 active cardholders in e-commerce are “new in e-commerce” from January to March 2020;
  • Visa contactless active cards have tripled in the last year in the region, with markets like Costa Rica and Chile leading the way in adoption.

Consumer behavior in Latin America and the Caribbean is shifting noticeably in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, favoring e-commerce transactions and contactless technologies. More than 13 million Visa cardholders transacted through e-commerce for the first time between January and March in key Latin American and Caribbean markets and for the first time in over 15 months.

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This means two out of 10 active cardholders in e-commerce are “new in e-commerce” from January to March 2020, which represents up to 14% of total active Visa accounts in key markets during this period. While the full impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce penetration across Latin America is yet to be fully seen, early indications highlight a shift in consumer spend towards e-commerce.

According to a Visa study, while people are shopping online for many essentials, most Latin American consumers feel they need to visit physical stores for certain types of purchases, where contactless technology is becoming the preferred payment choice. Visa contactless active cards have tripled in the last year in the region, with markets like Costa Rica and Chile leading the way in adoption – more than 50% of face-to-face payments in these countries are contactless. 

In 17 markets in Latin America and the Caribbean contactless face-to-face transactions exceeded the double-digit penetration in March, while in Guatemala contactless transactions represented more than 30% of total face-to-face Visa transactions. For the month of April, contactless transaction penetration in Colombia and Paraguay increased by over 20% versus the previous month, and in Panama 1 in every 3 transactions were with a contactless card.

The consumer research done in April, which covered seven markets in the region, found that e-commerce and contactless payment experiences are perceived to be safer, healthier options during the pandemic. In addition to the convenience and security features that have always been integral to their value, they inherently remove touch and provide distance during the purchasing experience, just as consumers are prioritizing these factors more than ever before.

“Consumers change how they shop and pay only when they see value in doing so. The pandemic has rapidly conferred the benefits of e-commerce and contactless, influencing consumer behavior as they prioritize health, safety and hygiene both at home and when they have to go out for their purchases,” said Vanesa Meyer, Head of Innovation and Design for Visa Latin America and the Caribbean.

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“Visa is committed to be the best way to pay and be paid in Latin America and the Caribbean – and everywhere. That commitment is steadfast through this crisis as we support the safest and most secure ways to make payments whether from consumers’ homes or businesses via e-commerce or at the point of sale.”

The study surveyed 400 consumers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Mexico to explore how the pandemic has affected spending and payment attitudes and perceptions in Latin America and the Caribbean during the outbreak period.