Together, We Can Create a Resilient Digital Economy
The digital economy faces new challenges in the global, post-pandemic world. On the one hand, in 2023, inflation will remain above pre-2020 levels in 8 out of 10 countries, potentially limiting consumers' purchasing power. Additionally, there is a high probability of a slowdown in global economic growth, with risks of a possible recession in Europe and the US, which is Mexico's main trading partner.
In this challenging context, earlier this month, Conekta convened leaders from the digital payments ecosystem in Mexico, including Nu Mexico, Vtex and Visa, to discuss opportunities to boost the digital economy. Above all, we all acknowledge the crucial role that the digital economy and e-commerce play in revitalizing our country's economy and generating opportunities. In 2022 alone, the market value of our sector in Mexico grew by 23% to reach MX$528 billion (US$28 billion s). Today, more than 63 million Mexicans purchase products and services online.
As part of the discussion, we identified three components that need to form part of a comprehensive strategy that allows the sector to adapt to the new reality of consumption patterns and to lay the groundwork for sustainable and resilient growth.
The first component of a future growth strategy should seek to improve the user experience, personalizing our services according to their needs. For example, Conekta understood the specific needs of the Mexican market and created alternative, customized cash payment solutions to serve more than 29 million people who do not have bank accounts. The preference of Mexican consumers for cash not only has been a relevant business driver for our company —at least 73% of Conekta’s online payments processed in 2022 were made in cash — it also helps us understand how we build a sustainable digital economy that benefits both merchants and consumers.
Additionally, last year, Conekta was the first company in Mexico to allow businesses to offer a cashback service through convenience stores for online purchases made with cash. This cash-back system favors both customers and companies, which can reach more customers because a debit or credit card will no longer be necessary to request a refund.
Consumer behavior drives and shapes the online commerce and digital payments ecosystem. Providing a seamless customer experience when it comes to completing an online transaction is crucial for online businesses. You may provide a positive shopping experience on the site prior to the purchase process, good web design and offer relevant information about products and services, but if the payment process is not successful, the digital consumer will have a negative experience and probably will not return to the e-commerce site.
On the other hand, 5G networks are expected to increase internet access by up to 4% in the next three years (5 million-plus new users annually), which indicates that e-commerce tools must also be integrated into a hybrid reality. This requires offering customers the choice between digital and physical transactions during their shopping experience. Talkwalker stated in its global survey that over 60% of consumers will continue to shop online and approximately 57% of consumers will keep shopping in-store. It is worth mentioning that Conekta also facilitates omnichannel payments, a strategy that allows for a uniform and consistent shopping experience across all sales channels (physical stores, apps and websites).
A second crucial element to spur the digital economy is the development of technological infrastructure that attracts new users by offering innovative services. We should harness solutions like "embedded finance," which allows e-commerce ecosystem companies to offer banking or financial services, such as deferred payments, insurance contracting, and credit card acquisition. These additional services would be offered within the on-line platforms without additional hurdles. Boosting the development of payment interoperability technology will allow for agile transactions and the exchange of information between all types of digital payment methods.
Finally, there can be no sustained and resilient growth for the digital economy in Mexico without ensuring the safety of our users. The main actors in the digital payments ecosystem agree on the need to encourage collaboration and provide better and more numerous online security solutions. In fact, the use of virtual and physical cards will continue to grow, as long as user security is guaranteed. For its part, Conekta has sought to increase confidence in e-commerce by absorbing fraud and avoiding chargeback rates. Banks and e-commerce firms now see us as allies in a joint effort to protect users against fraudsters and cybercriminals.
E-commerce must lay the foundations for resilience to successfully face future changes in the global economy and adapt to user preferences. We are convinced that for the sector to continue growing sustainably and consistently, we must put our customers at the center of our business strategy, adapt to hybrid realities, and guarantee the best possible security conditions for our users. Only then can the sector lay the foundations to successfully adapt to future challenges related to the global economy and consumer preferences.