Digital payments increase in Ecuador although they remain below the regional average
Ecuadorians, on average, make just 7 electronic payments a year. The cash remains, according to the Central Bank , the most used to pay for any purchases in the country. In Colombia, the figure rises up to 12 times, in Chile it stands at 46 and in Brazil over 135.
These figures were demonstrated during the virtual conference: Mass consumption and means of payment in the time of covid-19; effect of the pandemic on cash handling; Verónica Artola , manager of the Central Bank of Ecuador; Ignacio Maldonado, Vice President of Business at Banco Pichincha ; and Juan Antonio Franco, Marketing Director of La Fabril, reflected on the structural problems of the means of payment.
In the virtual conversation, Artola explained that although the national indicators compared to the rest of the countries in the region are low, the use of digital payment methods increased in Ecuador, starting in April.
“People are beginning to use digital payment methods more, basically in transfers . We even have a growth that is already around 4 million operations in the month of September, something that we only saw in the months of December of previous years ”explained Artola.
Although he recognized that there is a decrease in the amounts in household consumption due to the pandemic, however, “there is definitely a growth in the amounts traded in the interbank payment system.”
Ignacio Maldonado, Vice President of Business at Banco Pichincha, it is important to analyze the impact of the high use of cash on the Ecuadorian economy . According to international statistics, the cost for countries is between 3 and 4% of GDP. In the case of Ecuador, the problem lies in the lack of a massive system for digital payment.
“Only between large consumer companies and neighborhood stores are cash payments of about $ 16 billion. All this money could be used through means of payment such as cards or cell phone applications, ”Maldonado added.
In his opinion, both banks and mass consumption companies have the challenge of building a digital payment structure in Ecuador , accompanied by a tax or retention policy that allows the flow of these operations.
Maldonado stressed that there are more than 13 million smartphones in the country. In the case of Banco Pichincha microentrepreneur clients , 70% have a smart phone that could accept payments with credit or debit cards .
He acknowledged that costs (taxes and withholdings) are entry barriers, so the financial institution has sought other ways to promote mobile payments: “we have developed Deuna !, our own payment method where we already have 76,000 customers and 18,000 affiliated businesses ”. The application allows payments to be made between Banco Pichincha clients through a QR code or by choosing a telephone contact.
For his part, Juan Antonio Franco, Marketing Director of La Fabril, highlighted how the evolution of digitalization of payments, expected in 5 years, happened in 5 months. The number of people requesting their consumer basket through an electronic system such as an e-commerce , a cell phone or WhatsApp increased. A part of this consumption, he added, was made with credit or debit cards, 15% compared to 85% that they do with cash payments.
The three panelists agreed on the need to promote inclusion and financial education to encourage a change in habit in the use of cash and promote mobile payments from trust and security; especially in those segments of the population (49%) that do not have access to financial services.