For LatAm payment orchestration startups, market fragmentation is a blessing in disguise

In the vast and varied lands between Patagonia and the Rio Grande, a region entrepreneurs and investors like to call “LatAm,” there are 38 different countries using 39 different currencies.

Only 19% of Latin American adults own a credit card, and 70% of credit cards in Brazil, Argentina and Chile can’t be used internationally. Local payment methods account for 68% of online sales, and, depending on the region and merchant networks, merchants must integrate dozens of payment service providers. Meanwhile, cash voucher systems like Brazil’s boleto bancário and Mexico’s Oxxo payment network account for a significant share of Latin American consumer transactions.

Fraud is also a major problem for online merchants in Latin America. Since the onset of the pandemic, Stripe observed that fraud rates at businesses in Latin America were 97% higher than in North America and 222% higher than businesses in the Asia Pacific.

In fewer words: The payments landscape in Latin America seems hopelessly fragmented and riddled with fraud.

To help prevent payment fraud, a solution should aggregate multiple providers and data sources into a single decision engine.

Meanwhile, the failure of one-click checkout startup Fast and questions about Bolt’s revenue suggest payment orchestration in the U.S. will remain dominated by the likes of Shopify and Stripe. Bolt and Fast wanted to bring Amazon’s one-click experience to all online vendors. After all, 75% of shopping carts are abandoned before payment, thanks in part to lengthy checkout processes.

But incumbents like Stripe and Adyen already dominate distribution channels, and they can easily extend a one-click solution. Meanwhile, checkout-only startups’ thin margins suffer under payment incumbents’ vertically integrated solutions, as well as from the “incentive wars” that payments, BNPL and checkout players wage on price-sensitive merchants.

So if one-click checkout startups are struggling to make headway against incumbents in the single-currency, highly digitized and concentrated U.S. market, it might seem impossible for a payment orchestration startup to succeed in the fragmented markets of Latin America.