Argentina: an e-commerce & payments primer
Despite economic headwinds, Argentina remains a fast-growing and dynamic e-commerce market. Argentines love to shop online, in ever-increasing numbers. With the right localisation strategy and the right local-market insights, Argentina is a highly lucrative prospect for cross-border merchants and new e-commerce entrants.
Argentine online shoppers are particularly fond of credit cards. These have a 58% market share for e-commerce payments . 3% of online shopping is paid for using electronic bank transfers , 28% Wallets and 2% cash. Looking at the credit card market: Visa is the most popular card, with a 43% market share, Mastercard has 19% of the market, American Express 3% and 34% are local cards – issued by the global brands Visa, Mastercard and American Express but restricted to domestic use. Those localized versions of international credit card schemes are characteristic for the LatAm countries Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Those local cards are limited in use, as they are restricted to local purchases and cannot be used cross-border. Even if those cards are issued by international brands and may seem like standard credit cards, they can only be used in the country in which they are issued and can only be used to make payments in that country’s currency .
Already struggling with inflation, Argentina has been hit particularly hard since the pandemic. By mid-2022, inflation was 64%, with some analysts predicting it could rise to 90% by 2023 . The economic growth rate in 2022 was 4%, forecast to drop to 3% by 2023 . Unemployment stands at 7% . The IMF expects the unemployment rate to decline over the next two years .
The big question hanging over the Argentinian economy in the near term is whether the government can cut the billions of dollars the state spends each year on consumer energy subsidies, as wholesale prices rise to help stabilise state finances .
The e-commerce market
The Argentine e-commerce market is worth almost US$14 billion and is growing at a rate of 67.6% a year . The average online shopper spends US$299 a year with e-commerce merchants. Online sales account for 6% of all retail sales and approximately 37% of all online sales are completed on a mobile device .
In May 2021, Argentina signed an e-commerce agreement with Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Under its terms, data may pass freely between the four countries, without any tariffs imposed on electronic transmissions . One recent report found that social commerce — e-commerce conducted via social media — is growing at a rate of 48% a year, with almost 8% of consumers now shopping through social media .
Enabling and limiting factors
Internet penetration in Argentina is high for the region, at 82% . But for a large minority, mobile Internet is their only connection. A new survey found that 32% of Argentine households lack a fixed-line Internet connection . At the current growth rate, the research found, it will be twelve years before the country has universal fixed broadband coverage.
Any merchant or PSP moving into the Argentine market must, unless it only intends to target the very affluent, make mobile compatibility a priority. 77% of the population has an Internet-enabled smartphone . According to the International Telecoms Union, there are more connected mobile phones (albeit not all smartphones) in the country than there are people .
Financial inclusion rates are low compared to Argentina’s immediate neighbours; just 62% of the population is banked and 26% has a credit card . At the end of 2017, the Argentine government announced its intention to launch a new National Strategy for Financial Inclusion, financed with a $20 million loan approved by the Inter-American Development Bank .
The strategy’s goal is to make digital financial inclusion a priority . At the end of 2020, the government announced the launch of a new digital wallet with which clients can make payments, transfer money and manage their accounts .
- Original PPRO research