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Economic prosperity, advances in technology and changes in consumer behavior helped boost electronic-commerce transactions by 40% in the Latin America/Caribbean region in 2007 compared with the previous year, according to a study commissioned by Visa Inc. Visa based its findings on a survey research group AmericaEconomica Intelligence did in 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean between 1 Jan. and 31 May. The study found that credit cards played a role in the growth, as more than 70% of consumers surveyed prefer to use credit cards for online payment. Visa says e-commerce transaction has grown by 121% the last two years, led by Venezuela, which has had 224% growth. Jose Maria Ayuso, regional head of products of Visa Latin America and the Caribbean, tells CardLine Global the lifting of a government ban on the use of international credit cards helped Venezuela grow in e-commerce. Other Latin American countries lifted similar bans, he says. Despite the region's growth, Visa says e-commerce represents just 0.32% of the region's gross domestic product compared with 0.98% in the United States. Ayuso says Internet retailers in Latin America and the Caribbean should enhance their Web sites to accept payment for goods and services. "A lot of sites just have product listings and a number to call to place an order," Ayuso says. The study findings suggest consumers between the ages of 18 and 35 are heavy Internet users. But Ayuso says a fear of fraud is the main barrier to continued growth. "We have a lot to do still in that area," he says.

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