Will M-commerce grow (and thrive) in Latin America?

Convenience: it seems to be wired in our DNA as human beings to find ways to save time and make our lives easier. We want to shop faster, better and hassle free – and in Latin America is no different. However, there are differences and peculiarities like any other emerging economies, factors that might get in the way for the mobile commerce (ie. purchases made not only through smartphone but any other mobile device such as tablets).

Despite the increase in the middle class population and smartphone/tablet penetration, Latin America is pretty much a ‘cashonomy’ – where cash is still the primary payment method – and it is seen the best way to control one’s finances and especially for those that are not or don’t want to be affiliated to any financial institution.

The study by Ericsson ConsumerLab M-Commerce in Latin America, shows mobile banking to be a little more widespread than mobile shopping. In my opinion, it isn’t lack of knowledge but still a generalized distrust on website security, topped by a lack of reliable internet connection as well as lack of legislation protecting consumer rights that make mobile/tablet users to shy away from shopping online.


The e-commerce in the region has been growing at rapid pace it is believed to reach USD 62.5 billion in 2015, according to eMarketer, but the adoption of m-commerce is evident.

Mercadolibre – the biggest Latin American marketplace e-commerce site – reported that seven percent of its sales are via the mobile channel. Interestingly enough, 40% of new registered users to MercadoLibre signed up through mobile devices in 2014. The site also offers the online payment service MercadoPago and the total payment transactions through this service increased 48.8% to USD 12.5 million in 2014 from USD 8.4 million a year earlier. On the same note, PayPal recently reported that 15 percent of sales in Brazil and Mexico was carried out via mobile channels.

However, some countries are pushing the m-commerce growth in the region more than others. In Brazil, for instance, m-commerce boomed in the last 2 years. A study from a the Brazilian mobile payments company Pagtel reported by US Media Consulting showed that 67% of Brazilian mobile users surveyed made mobile purchases in 2014, compared to 57% in 2013. The same research also showed that 60% of Brazilian mobile shoppers used store websites, 37% used intermediate services like PayPal or Buscapé, 32% used app stores like Google Play and 24% used shopping applications.

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