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Consumer behavior and digitalization of payments in Latin America and the Caribbean

By Paula Guarin, Sr. Director Consumer Insights, Visa Latin America and the Caribbean

At Visa, we strive to help build an inclusive economy that provides more people in more places access to secure and friction-free payment experiences and services. For that, we continuously keep our finger on the pulse of the consumer to better understand their preferences and get ahead of their demands, to deliver innovative solutions that are intuitive and relevant

2023 Latin America and the Caribbean Consumer Usage and Attitude study

We just launched this study that explores how consumers move money within the context of the digital migration that has accelerated in the region in the years post pandemic. It suggests that the way people receive money influences how they spend it and, points out that those that receive money digitally also tend to make more digital payments as well. More than 60% of the consumers surveyed said that they receive money via bank transfer, followed by 43% who receive cash and 14% who get funds by other digital means, like apps and digital wallets.

Those who use a digital method to receive money—either bank transfers or other digital options—typically use five different methods of paying for things, including cash, credit cards, debit cards, and other digital options. Similarly, those who most often receive money in cash are more likely to pay for things in cash. According to the study, 52% of those surveyed get money in cash and pay in cash, compared to 42% and 46% respectively for those that get money either by bank transfer or via apps.

Preferred payment method

While it appears that the method of payment used largely depends on what consumers are buying, the study indicates that cash is still the dominant payment method among those surveyed in nearly all categories except for online shopping, person to person payments (P2P), and big-ticket purchases. For the latter, the study found that only 29% of those surveyed use cash when making large purchases, while the rest prefer a digital option like credit, debit, or apps.

When choosing to pay digitally, consumers across Latin America and the Caribbean are turning to digital wallets more and more. In fact, it appears that these mobile apps onto which users can virtually load a physical card and store its value for fast and easy payment, are set to comprise more than 50% of all ecommerce globally by the year 2024¹. In a region where cash still dominates, digital wallets and other money management tools are becoming an important gateway for the underbanked and unbanked, who tend to be younger and lower-income populations. 

How consumers are saving their money

With regards to saving, the study highlights that although it is a widespread concept in the region – both culturally and given the economic volatility of most markets – only 63% of the consumers surveyed save in any way, and of those only 33% do so regularly. In terms of investing, the scenario is similar – only 36% of those surveyed currently invest in some capacity.

Interestingly, the study suggests that emerging trends like investing in cryptocurrencies are beginning to gain traction across Latin America and the Caribbean, shaping and redefining investment possibilities in the region. The study found that 23% of consumers who reported to invest, do it in crypto, a group not substantially smaller than those who use other, more popular investment forms.

If you want to read the report, click here to access the complete version 2023 Latin America and the Caribbean Consumer Usage and Attitude study.

Research methodology

The 2023 Latin America and the Caribbean Consumer Usage and Attitude Study targeted respondents from the general population, age 16+, with high, medium, and medium-low socioeconomic levels. The methodology consisted of qualitative and quantitative techniques in eight Latin America and the Caribbean markets, and included 48 focus groups, 8 three-day online interactive blogs, and 14,000 online interviews. The study was conducted by Maru/Matchbox.

[1] The Global Payments Report. WorldPay from FIS, 2022.