A guide to Chile’s preferred e-commerce payment methods

Everything you need to know about Chilean e-commerce and payment preferences

Countries Chile

Chile: an e-commerce & payments primer

Chile has 28% of the world’s known copper reserves [1] and extracted just over 28% of all the copper mined in 2020 [2]. Though over-specialisation has its price — the Dutch Disease, in which a single dominant industry crowds out all others [3] — in the short term, copper is great news for Chile.

Driven by industrial demand, in large part because copper is such an important raw material for electric vehicles [4], the price of copper rose by 21% in 2021 [5]. And that rise is set to continue for the foreseeable future [6].

Little wonder then, that — despite the pandemic — GDP expanded by 11.7% in 2021, bouncing back from a contraction of 6% in 2020 [7]. The government used the windfall to help pay for a $16 billion stimulus package, including aid to Chileans hit by lockdown [8]. Now, however, Chile’s central bank has announced its intention to raise interest rates, prompted by concern over rising inflation, which it predicts will hit 4.4% by the end of 2021 [9].

By late spring 2021 — the latest period for which figures were available at the time of writing — retail sales were rising by 4.9% year-on-year [10]. Consumer confidence was falling in April 2021 [11]. But whether this continues to be the case, or whether the metric tracks retail spending and economic growth, is unknown.

The e-commerce market

Worth $12.0 billion a year today, the Chilean e-commerce market is predicted to grow at an average annual rate of almost 25% a year [13]. The average Chilean e-shopper spends $608 a year with online merchants [13]. Online sales are 11% of all retail sales in the country [13]. 

Because Chile has invested heavily in developing the technological infrastructure, e-commerce has more than tripled since 2012. Online sales are distributed evenly between companies of all sizes [14].

36% of e-commerce transactions are completed on a mobile device [13]. Of the country’s 25 million mobile subscribers, 19% have a mobile money account [15]. Asked what would prompt them to shop using their mobile phones, 70% of Chileans said that the absence of delivery fees was an important factor and over half said they’d be willing to wait longer for an order if delivery was free [15]. 

The local payment culture

Payment cards are the most popular way of paying for online purchases, used in 55% of all e-commerce transactions [13]. The next most popular is bank-transfer, used in 13% of all transactions [13]. Cash was used to pay for 5% of online purchases, wallets for 14% and other schemes for the remaining 13% [13]. Most of online card payments (84%) are made with localized credit 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. “Normal” credit cards issued by Visa, Mastercard and American Express all together only count for 16% of all online card payments [13]. 

Enabling and limiting factors

77% of Chileans have a bank account. At 83% of the population, Chile has the highest Internet penetration rate of the LatAm region [13]. 78% of Chileans have an Internet-enabled smartphone [13]. The country’s General Telecommunications Law stipulates strict net neutrality. The Chilean government’s Digital Agenda 2020 programme was implemented to push forward the country’s digital transformation in all aspects of Chilean life [16]. 

Chile is ranked 34 out of 160 countries in the World Bank’s Global Logistical Performance Index, the best ranking for any Latin American country. A report by the World Trade Institute cites lack of central planning and long distances as the main obstacles for further improvement [17]. However, there are encouraging signs that these are already on the way to being overcome. In 2019, the government invested $99 million in improving road, air and port infrastructure [18]. 

Conclusion

Chile is the most advanced market in Latin America. It’s projected to grow solidly in the immediate future. And it has a young and increasingly affluent population which is hungry for branded consumer goods. For any merchant thinking of expanding in Latin America, this is a prime market to crack.

  1. https://www.mining.com/chile-the-largest-copper-producer-and-the-country-with-the-biggest-reserves-usgs
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/254845/copper-production-of-chile
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301420720309260
  4. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/copper-looks-to-set-fresh-record-friday-as-economic-recovery-electric-cars-drive-rise-in-metals-price-11620389632
  5. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/17/copper-prices-rise-amid-green-sustainable-initiatives.html
  6. https://www.metalbulletin.com/Article/3984353/Goldman-Sachs-raises-bullish-copper-forecasts-expects-record-demand-growth.html
  7. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG?locations=CL
  8. https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mining-giant-chile-flush-with-cash-copper-price-soars-2021-04-27
  9. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-08/chile-keeps-record-low-key-rate-on-covid-surge-and-uneven-growth?sref=cHWJcN7x
  10. https://www.investing.com/news/economic-indicators/chilean-retail-sales-4.9-vs.-4.0-forecast-479695
  11. https://www.focus-economics.com/countries/chile/news/consumer-confidence/consumer-confidence-deteriorates-in-april
  12. https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/chile-detects-first-case-of-delta-covid-19-variant-2021-06-24
  13. Original PPRO research.
  14. https://www.export.gov/apex/article2?id=Chile-eCommerce
  15. https://www.mobilegrowthassociation.com/blog/mobile-usage-in-latam-a-breakdown-of-habits-by-country

Page index

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Quick facts

On 1st June 2020 non-resident suppliers of digital content were obliged under Chilean law to pay 19% VAT on all purchases. Simultaneously non-residential providers of digital content put their prices up by 19%

Buy now, pay later payments have seen a dramatic surge in growth over the past year, expanding by 148.1% and are expected to keep on growing by 35.6% CAGR between 2021 and 2028.

Chile holds an annual three-day e-commerce shopping extravagance called CyberDay. In 2019 Chileans spent over 270 m USD in over 2 m transactions online shopping during the three days. In 2020 the amount spent rose to 368 m USD with double the number of transactions. In 2021 the figure rose to 640 m $US.

Thanks to Chile’s vaccine program, the economy is due to grow by 6.7% in 2021 and 3.5% in 2022. The main driver will be household consumption according to the OECD.

General Information

  • Population 19.9 m
  • Population 15 + 16.1 m
  • Online population 16.6 m
  • Area 756,950 km2
  • Currency CLP
  • GDP 331.3 bn $US
  • GDP per capita 16,629 $US

Payment types

  • Card-based payments
  • Cash-based payments
  • Bank transfer
  • Wallets
  • Other
[{"label":"Card-based payments","value":"55"},{"label":"Cash-based payments","value":"5"},{"label":"Bank transfer","value":"13"},{"label":"Wallets","value":"14"},{"label":"Other","value":"13"}]

Banked population
  • Chile 77%
  • South & Central America 58%
  • World 67%
Credit card penetration
  • Chile 32%
  • South & Central America 20%
  • World 19%
Internet penetration
  • Chile 83%
  • South & Central America 73%
  • World 62%
Smartphone penetration
  • Chile 78%
  • South & Central America 64%
  • World 70%

The E-Commerce Market

Top e-commerce segments

  1. Toys, Hobby & DIY: 30%
  2. Electronics & Media: 25%
  3. Furniture & Appliances: 22%
  4. Fashion: 17%
  5. Food & Personal Care: 6%

Cross-border e-commerce

  1. Cross-border proportion of total e-commerce – 9%
  2. Value of cross-border e-commerce – 1.1 bn $US
  3. Online shoppers who have shopped cross-border – 73%
B2C e-commerce growth 20->21
  • Chile 52.1%
E-commerce % of total retail
  • Chile 11%
  • South & Central America 11%
  • World 20%
E-commerce completed on a mobile device
  • Chile 36%
  • South & Central America 44%
  • World 53%

E-Commerce Trends

  • E-commerce market size 12.0 bn $US
  • E-commerce spending per capita 608 $US
  • E-commerce spending as % of GDP 4.2%

The Credit Card Split

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Local schemes
[{"label":"Visa","value":"11"},{"label":"Mastercard","value":"22"},{"label":"American Express","value":"1"},{"label":"Local schemes","value":"66"}]

The information on our Insights pages has been compiled by us in cooperation with Datamatics and Wright & Brown. The data shown is partially owned by us and partially owned by GlobalData. © 2021 by PPRO Financial Ltd. No data and information can be used for any further publication without the explicit approval of PPRO.

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