Wireless Access, E-Commerce on Rise in Latin America

Overall e-commerce revenue in Latin America will increase to $67 billion by 2004, according to eMarketer, which predicts the increase will be fueled by advances in the B2B segment.

eMarketer’s eLatin America Report found that revenues in Latin America reached $3.6 billion in 2000, with B2B transactions of $2.85 billion and B2C transactions of $724 million.

The report also reveals that Brazil, with 3.9 million current Internet users, continues to dominate all Latin American countries, accounting for 40 percent of the region’s total Internet usage.

“Brazil is by far the leading market for internet commerce in both the B2B and B2C segments,” said Noah Elkin, Ph.D. and Senior Analyst at eMarketer. “All countries, however, will see impressive growth in e-commerce revenues over the next few years, although the B2B sector will grow most quickly.”

Three countries: Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, account for approximately 65 percent of the region’s 9.9 million Internet users with Brazil boasting 3.9 million, Mexico with 1.5 million, and Argentina with 1 million.

Other findings from the report include:

  • The percentage of the Latin American population with a PC is exceedingly small, ranging from a low of 3 percent in Peru to a high of 10 percent in Argentina.
  • Argentina is the only country in Latin America truly poised to offer broadband internet access over cable lines.
  • In Mexico, 1.5 million children (age 14 and older) were active Internet users in 2000. By 2004, that number will grow to 6.4 million.
  • The Internet user population in Latin America is heading toward gender parity.
  • Given the limitations of the region’s fixed-line infrastructure, Latin Americans are turning to wireless as an alternative.
  • In Chile, 31 percent of workplace PCs have an Internet connection, which is high for Latin America
  • Current estimates put internet penetration at 1% of the population in Columbia
  • There are 4.5 million wireless subscribers in Venezuela — one of the first countries in Latin America where mobile phone usage outnumbers fixed-line connections.

According to Jupiter Research, more than 50 million Internet users in Latin America will access the web via mobile devices by 2005 — making wireless Internet access in the region almost as widespread as access from PCs.

“In Latin America, more than in the US, a substantial population of consumers will emerge who access the Internet only or primarily from a mobile phone,” said Lucas Graves, senior analyst at Jupiter Research. “But for most online businesses in Latin America, the biggest payoff of mobile access will be in driving loyalty with existing users.”

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