Why Brazilians are getting increasingly enthusiastic about mobile payments

Especially younger consumers are likely to adopt new mobile payment methods. They value the ease of use and the possibility to transfer money immediately.

Over the years, people in Brazil have gotten increasingly interested in purchasing goods and services online. As mentioned in our last article, e-commerce sales have jumped more than a 100% over the last five years. The current pandemic has fed this trend. And according to several market studies, it is likely that Brazilians will maintain their recently adopted virtual habits. Even when the crisis is over.

An important aspect to mention in this context: Brazilians process more and more online purchases via mobile phones. 85% of the consumers with smartphones have already used it at least once for online shopping, as stated in a market report from 2019. For comparison: In 2015, only 41% of the those who own a smartphone also used it for e-commerce.

Certainly, this has a significant impact on mobile payments. Although a large majority in Brazil still use credit cards to pay online, the use of digital wallets, in particular, is on the rise. According to J.P. Morgan, sales through this method already represent over 27% of the e-commerce transactions. In its analysis, the US bank comments that “Brazil’s enthusiastic adoption of digital wallets indicates that this method of payment may well rival the use of cards as the primary way to pay online by 2021”.

Instant payments are expected to boost mobile payment transactions

The term mobile or digital wallet stands for a virtual wallet that can store credit card payment information as well as gift cards, coupons, bonus cards and other mobile payment information. Digital wallets are apps that enable mobile payments online as well as at points of sale.

According to the British investment consultancy Buyshares, Brazil is already the world’s fourth largest market for mobile wallets. By the end of this year, transactions with them are expected to increase up to more than USD 22 billion.

Especially with the implementation of instant payments, market experts believe that mobile payments will soon expand their popularity. Instant, or so-called proximity payments, are used in stores when consumers approximate their mobile phone or other wearable device to a specific machine near the pay desk, using Near Field Communication technology (NFC payments), or a QR code to proceed with the payment.

“Ease of Use” is the strongest argument for mobile payments

Regarding NFC payments in particular, the main global providers are currently Samsung Pay, Google Pay and Apple Pay. All of them are already present in Brazil – which is as a strong indicator of the future potential of the mobile payments market in the country. Thus, the research firm eMarketer predicts an exponential increase of instant payment users. According to eMarketer data, Brazil today has about 12 million instant payment users . Their expectation for Brazil is to reach 21 million users by 2023.

Market surveys indicate that especially younger consumers are likely to adopt the new mobile payment methods. They mainly value the ease of use, the possibility to transfer money immediately and receive instant confirmation. For one study, people responded specifically about what encourages them to choose mobile payment. Almost 40% answered, it would be a good backup in case they are without their physical wallet.

What are the main challenges for digital payments in Brazil

Although it is a thriving market, mobile payment providers still struggle with different issues, like user security and authority regulations. For instance, when WhatsApp recently tried to start its mobile payment service in Brazil, they had to suspend it only one week after the official rollout in June 2020.

According to the TechCrunch platform, the Brazilian central bank intervened, arguing that it was necessary to “preserve an adequate competitive environment in the mobile payments space and guarantee the functioning of a payment system that’s interchangeable, fast, secure, transparent, open and cheap”.

TechCrunch reported having talked to a WhatsApp spokesperson who said that they want to continue making mobile payments possible together with local partners and the Central Bank. “We support the Central Bank’s PIX project on digital payments and together with our partners are committed to work with the Central Bank to integrate our systems when PIX becomes available”, added the spokesperson, according to an online Techcrunch article.

PIX is the Brazilian Central Bank’s own mobile payment service. It probably will be available by November this year.

These Brazilian startups offer mobile payment

Other Brazilian companies also invest in the promising technology. A national report has mapped 112 payments startups in the country, 22 focus exclusively on mobile payments. According to Brazilian innovation platform Distrito, among the most prominent apps are PicPay, Code Money and Celcoin.


The app allows people to transfer money between themselves and pay for products in stores and bills. To start making mobile payments, the user has to register a credit card or transfer an amount via bank slip.

Code Money

This application works like a digital wallet, when the user upload the desired value. It allows the consumer to buy at partner stores and works like a debit card. Users can transfer amounts from mobile phone to mobile phone within three seconds.


Celcoin is an application that turns any smartphone into a terminal for receiving bills, recharging cell phones, bus tickets, TV plans and even managing credit points for Uber and Netflix. Mainly freelancers, shopkeepers, micro-entrepreneurs and retailers started to offer the platform’s services to their customers in order to become more competitive.

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