Latin America: a ride hailing gold rush?



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Approximately 70% of Latin America’s population is unbanked or underbanked, opening up a huge potential market for apps improving financial accessibility. Digital wallets, which work via top-ups and don’t require a bank account to set up have emerged as a solution. Without the need for banks, digital wallets evade the widespread mistrust that many Latin Americans have regarding banking institutions.

COVID-19 has also contributed to the heightened demand for mobile wallets in LATAM. As a predominantly cash-driven society, concerns about handling paper money have been confirmed as new studies reveal that the virus is transmitted through handling cash. Leading masses of citizens and consumers to look for safer alternatives. In Mexico, digital wallets are thought to occupy a 27.7% share of the business-to-consumer e-commerce payments market by 2021, while Argentina has also been showing high in-store use of digital wallets during the pandemic. This is of course compounded by the fact that over the last year lockdowns have forced clubs, bars, shops and restaurants to close, there has been a greater demand for online forms of payment.

Mercado Pago started as a way to enable payment between users in the marketplace; however, it has expanded to offer a diverse portfolio of financial services such as QR code payments, debit cards, a digital wallet and transfers. Mercado Pago is now Latin America’s top e-commerce app and processes around 400 million transactions annually. Mercado Pago has been a key player in driving the rise in digital payments as shops shifted online amid the coronavirus pandemic. Transactions on the platform of Mercado Pago more than doubled in the second quarter, and according to Airnow’s platform, DAUs grew by more than 25% between (April 21, 2021 - July 21, 2021) globally.

It appears that LATAM is finally catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to digitalizing their finances, and this will surely come as a benefit to thousands of businesses across the continent who can now access new revenue streams.

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