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Despite the appeal of Brazil’s continental sized marketplace, doing business in Brazil can be a minefield. What can seem like simple elsewhere in the world can fall prey to a bureaucracy  that is oftentimes redundant and self-sabotaging to otherwise brilliant and creative businesses. Despite this, Brazil has become one of the top ten economies in the world. It’s easy to think of Brazil as an economy of scale that generates massive windfalls of income based on its natural resources and energy production but that would be a mistake and a lost opportunity to investors.

Brazil’s Innovative Technological Solutions

Brazil is home to innovate technology companies like Embraer, an aviation company that manufactures more civil aircraft worldwide than anyone but Boeing and Airbus. It’s also him to South America’s largest banking sector and an enviable baking industry that claims the five biggest institutions by asset size and six of the top ten spots in Latin America, dividing the top ten with Mexico. In addition to the Brazilian banking and aviation sectors providing a surprisingly efficient economic service for a previously unstable region of the world, approximately 40 million people have joined the Brazilian consumer class in the last 20 years and that is where Brazil’s booming e-commerce industry has sprung up.


Brazil’s complex nature is what has made several services that are difficult to understand in other developed markets such excellent opportunities. The economic class that has grown over the last two decades is not rich by any means. These consumers, known as “Class C” consumers, have emerged from poverty to join the consumer class and navigate Brazil’s complex system by using innovative payment methods.


When given the chance nearly 90% of Brazilian consumers will use national payment methods for online purchases and more and more consumers are going online to make their purchases. While the country’s online payment market is often restricted by law, dominated by a few local banks, and serves it own consumer standards; customers can still avoid the hefty 6.38% IOF tax levied on international transactions (hence domestic only credit cards, purchase goods in installments with no interest rates, and use payment methods that make otherwise impossible consumer items accessible to lower and middle income purchasers.

We’re going to look at a few of the payment methods employed by local banks as part of an ongoing series of Brazilian e-commerce. If you plan on doing business in Brazil avoid this at your own peril. Brazil  is the 4th largest internet market globally, with 140 million internet users out of a total population of more than 207 million.

According to Euromonitor Internacional, Brazil represents about 42% of all B2C e-commerce in Latin America. With 111 million active Facebook users, Brazil registers a global online presence that is one of the world’s largest.

In other words, Brazilian Portuguese is one of the world’s major e-commerce languages and whether translating into it or from it, it should not be ignored if your brand wants to have a true global impact.


Brazilian Portuguese is the Facebook language of over 110 million Facebook users, represents 42% of Latin America’s B2C marketplace and represents nearly 20 USD$ Billion annually and growing in sales

So, let’s look briefly at these payment methods. Each of these methods deserves a deep dive in and of itself, as these innovative payment methods have enabled e-commerce giants like to have a business model and for ordinary business consumers to enter the global marketplace.


Brazilian Payment Methods 

Domestic Credit Cards

Domestic credit cards issued by local banks are limited to national purchases. People who purchase using international credit cards are subject to a hefty 6.38%IOF tax, making even minor credit purchases more substantial. Domestic cards are denominated in Brazilian Reais, and are responsible for nearly 75% of online purchases.

Boleto Bancário

Boleto bancario isn’t common elsewhere but a large portion of Brazil’s e-commerce is driven by Boletos. Roughly translated as a bank draft, a Boleto Bancário enables anyone to pay for online purchases, in cash at any bank branch, at ATMs or electronically via online banking. Part of its popularity is the lack of a chargeback risk. It is a promissory note emitted either a vendor or individual in either installments or a single payment. Recently Boleto’s have become more popular as consumers can use a barcode scanner with their banking service to debit directly from their accounts. We’ll discuss how this works and some of the benefits of boleto’s later on, but after domestic credit cards a large portion of Brazil’s e-commerce wheel rotates on boleto’s

Debit Cards and Online Banking Transfer

A lot of Brazilians still rely on old-fashioned bank wire transfers or debit cards.Debit cards are relatively new in Brazil but they have gained traction quickly.  By the end of 2015, there were nearly 100 million active debit cards in Brazil and over 86 million active credit cards. Debit cards have recently been made available for e-commerce purchases and have begun to gain market share.

So, what do all of these payment methods mean?

The short version of these innovative methods of getting e-commerce payments through a heavily taxed and regulated economy means that brazil has an e-commerce sector that seems to ignore the ups and downs of the regular economy. Even in the heart of a recession, or what is right now a slight recovery, consumers are still taking to the internet and social media to make purchases.

The graph above shows year-over-year e-commerce growth and it’s a parabola going straight up. Alongside that Brazilians take to the internet almost as much as they take to the beach and given what Brazil’s beaches look like, that is saying a lot. If you want to know what Latin America is saying or you want your company’s global presence accessing the world’s largest market’s, you can’t afford to ignore Brazil’s e-commerce book or it’s massive social media presence.

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Check back as we will discuss Brazil’s payment methods in more depth. It’s impossible to understand Brazil’s e-commerce structure without understanding the fee structures and advantages of it’s payment methods and ignoring Brazil’s e-commerce sector is no longer an option in evaluating any Brazilian business. Check back!



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