Press Release

How do Latin Americans make their payments? Mastercard reveals the preferences behind the payment methods of choice in Latin America and the Caribbean

November 29, 2023 | Miami, FL
  • Trust in cards remains despite new digital payment methods. Cards continue to be the most widely used digital payment method with 80% of consumers using them, either online or in-store.
  • Additionally, debit cards rank as the most reliable digital payment method, with 55% of consumers perceiving them as very secure.
  • Protection from fraud is the main factor influencing consumer behavior when choosing a payment method.


Miami, November 29, 2023 – The digitalization of the economy has gained more and more momentum around the world and the Latin American and Caribbean region has not been left behind. In an ever-changing world, technological innovations are changing the way we interact every day, and this extends to the payments industry, transforming the way everyday payments are made and how people spend or manage their money.

To learn more about the main methods and factors that consumers consider when making a payment, as part of the Mastercard LAC Innovation Forum, Mastercard presents its new research that investigates the payment behaviors of consumers in 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to the main findings, over the past few years the use of various alternative payment methods has increased: 77% of the consumers have used electronic payments, with credit and debit being the most utilized payment instrument both online and in-store. Debit has been highlighted as the most important digital payment method, used by 63% of consumers.

"Digitalization in Latin America is a phenomenon that is here to stay, as it is presented as a solution to the needs that Latin Americans face every day. Mastercard has been known for being at the forefront of the most current technology trends and that includes innovating at the pace of consumers. New payment methods have become tools that facilitate payments and transfers, which is why Mastercard has partnered with several digital wallets in various markets in Latin America and the Caribbean with the aim of providing the best payment experience to all consumers" said Walter Pimenta, executive vice president of Products and Engineering for Mastercard Latin America and the Caribbean.

With open arms: Latin American consumers are open to the use of technologies in payments

People in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to demonstrate their openness to testing new payment methods and their adoption of electronic payment methods. In this regard, cards continue to be the preferred medium and use of alternative digital methods has increased exponentially, while the use of cash has decreased.

The use of cash has been declining in recent years, with a third of consumers indicating that their preference for this option has been displaced by the digitization of payments. In addition, more than half of consumers surveyed (63%) indicated that they were very comfortable using new technologies. In this context, it is worth highlighting:

  • Debit cards are the most used payment method, with a usage rate of 55% and 41% for in-store and online purchases, respectively. Here, Chile is the country with the highest penetration of debit cards, both in-store (82%) and online (72%).
  • 50% of consumers indicate that the adoption of electronic payments is motivated by reducing the use of cash. The second reason, with 45%, is due to the speed of the transaction. More than in any other market in the region, 60% of Argentinian users carry less physical money with them.
  • While the introduction of new payment methods has increased, consumers prefer digital wallets when making a purchase in a store due to convenience (45%), speed (44%), and accessibility/user experience (44%).
  • Two-thirds of consumers use digital wallets for online or in-store transactions. The countries that make the highest use of this type of payment are Argentina and Uruguay, where more than 80% of consumers have used it.
  • Digital wallets mainly appeal to young adults, even more so when it comes to making online payments. 44% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 30 cited convenience as the top factor driving their online payment preferences.
  • When making a purchase, 44% of consumers use a mobile device to perform a transaction. The country where these devices are most used for payments is Brazil (86%), while in Jamaica it is the opposite, where this type of payment has not been implemented for the most part (13%).

Security: A key factor in the use of cards

Within the payments ecosystem, consumers are looking for frictionless experiences that allow them to make and receive payments easily, quickly, and most importantly, securely. Security – and specifically the fear of fraud – is the main factor that determines consumer behavior in relation to the payment methods they use. In fact, 83% of Latin Americans indicated that security features are the most influential aspect when choosing which payment method to use, followed by the protection of consumer financial information at 79%.  

When it comes to thinking about secure payment methods, debit cards take the top spot. According to respondents, debit cards are the payment method they fully trust (36%), followed by bank transfer (34%) and credit cards (27%). In this case, Uruguayan respondents stand out, who with 67% are the ones who feel the safest when making transactions with their debit cards, while Colombians are the ones who find them less secure (11%).

"We know that cyberattacks are a growing concern in the Latin American region for all consumers. People deserve the ability to make payments conveniently, quickly and easily without compromising their security. That's why Mastercard is continuously taking the necessary actions to strengthen the protection of our consumers through a holistic cybersecurity strategy. To ensure a secure digital ecosystem, we use data analytics and AI to identify vulnerabilities in advance and activate automatic protection shields for all our consumers," said Pimenta.

Privacy as a top priority

Consumers in Latin America and the Caribbean are highly concerned about their data privacy in the world of digital transactions, where 73% of respondents said privacy is a top priority, and that they always choose payment methods that protect user data.

Also, 96% say they take steps to protect their data. Among the main measures that respondents take to protect their privacy are:

  • Using secure and reliable payment platforms – 45%
  • Avoid sharing sensitive financial information online – 45%
  • Use strong, unique passwords for financial accounts – 44%

Scope and methodology of the research

Study markets include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. The research took place between November 1st 2023 and November 19th 2023 and consisted of a survey of 9,489 adults aged 18 and over.

Media Contacts

Andrea Denadai, Mastercard

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.