Credit cards in Latin America have plenty of opportunity as the region moves towards financial inclusion, but each country’s market is different due to local economies, politics and social makeup. Here are three interesting developments since Mercator Advisory Group published Credit Cards in Latin America and Caribbean: Financial Inclusion with Risk and Opportunity, in July 2019.
BNAmericas reported on a sophisticated move in Chile to adopt QR Codes, endorsed by the central bank, with an inclusion focus.
- Efforts are underway to raise levels of financial inclusion which will, in turn, result in more people using non-cash means of payment.
- Just as important, however, is developing the payments infrastructure to ensure that a larger proportion of consumers – particularly those who live outside urban areas – can actually make digital payments for goods and services.
- Regional financial inclusion leader Chile is advancing along this highway but has some distance to travel as around 900,000 merchants and service providers – such as taxi drivers and market vendors – remain underserved.
- State lender BancoEstado is among those tapping this rich business seam, having launched the first mobile POS service available in Chile without any fixed costs, known as Compraquí. Users are charged a fixed commission, however, for each transaction.
- This, in turn, will eventually lead to widespread use of contactlesspayments, with dynamic QR technology among the main protagonists.
- Valderrama said: “We’re transitioning from a three-part model to a four-part model. This will generate much more competition in the merchant discount rate sphere and will supposedly generate lower costs for merchants and customers.
- “It will also generate masses of opportunities for new players. For this reason, there are banks already working on launching their networks in 2020.”
That is good news from Chile. In short, the Transbank acquisition monopoly is breaking up, forcing increased competition. QR code acceptance will bring more people into payments, and the government is behind the popularization of payments.
- Facing mounting piles of credit card debt, unpaid medical bills and private school fees, Argentina’s cash-strapped middle class, much like the state itself, is facing its own debt default.
- “We cannot pay everything, we are sinking little by little,” laments Buenos Aires lawyer Monica, who says she and her accountant husband are overwhelmed by a morass of mounting bills.
- Like many of her friends, the 42-year-old says her family maintains its living standards at the price of a mounting credit in a country where annual inflation is running at over 50 percent.
- “In the beginning, we paid off all the debt on our card at the end of the month — until we couldn’t. With the usurious rates of interest, we are on the verge of ruin,” she said, shocked by the sudden change.
- Half his salary of 30,000 pesos ($508) goes in loan repayments. The plunging peso means his salary is worth half what it was a year ago in dollar terms.
We root for Mexico as the country launches a domestic payment scheme, official on September 30, 2019, but live testing blew up this weekend, according to El Economista.
- SPEI suffered temporary interruption due to excess operations
- On Friday some banks recorded failures in their electronic systems, that delayed transactions and led to a problem.
- The Bank of Mexico (Banxico) reported later that the temporary interruption of the Interbank Electronic Payments System (SPEI) recorded on Monday was due to an additional charge, as a result of the operational problems that certain banks presented last Friday.
- “Derived from the event reported on August 30, 2019 by this institution, in which some participants of the Interbank Electronic Payment System presented operational problems within their institutions, on September 2, 2019 an additional charge was generated in the referred system with respect to normal operation, ”the central bank detailed in a brief statement.
- He said that the handling of this load resulted in a temporary interruption in the SPEI from 3:43:56 to 4:34:32. “After the aforementioned schedule, the SPEI operates normally,” he said.
- At the end of September, the CoDi digital collection platform will be officially launched, which will run right down the SPEI road and that aims to massify electronic payments through cell phones.
Long Term Outlook
Chile will progress; innovation and inclusion in the country continues to be a priority and with the monopoly break-up, the country will continue to see progress. Argentina will take years to correct; the country will not begin to resemble Venezuala, but there are fundamental issues that must be corrected. Mexico’s CoDi will experience growing pains, though the big issue the country needs to deal with is payment fraud.
Overview by Brian Riley, Director, Credit Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group