Adjust existing rewards programs and learn how to create new programs that succeed in the Latin American market.

As payment method trends in the LATAM Market continue to evolve toward mobile money and contactless payments, trying to impose the old rules of traditional rewards programs can prove fruitless. The future of loyalty programs in Latin America will require shifts in thinking to make your rewards program worth the investment you’re making.

The Changing Landscape of Payment Methods in the LATAM Market

Cash has traditionally been king in this market; up until very recently, close to 80% of the transactions carried out in the Latin American market were still handled in cash, thanks in large part to a heavily underbanked population. (, 2020)

However, in recent years, the use of smartphones has transformed Latin American fintech significantly. From 1 billion mobile payment users in 2019, Gartner anticipates a nearly 100% increase to nearly 2 billion mobile payment users by 2024.

Additionally, the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic on commerce in general cannot be overstated. The pandemic has heightened awareness of cash as a health and hygiene concern for both merchants and customers: In this area, cash as a primary payment method has decreased, with 77% of Brazilian consumers using cash less frequently or not at all, similar to 61% of Colombian consumers who felt the same, largely due to hygiene concerns. (NewTech Mag, 2020)

Gartner anticipates a nearly 100% increase to nearly 2 billion mobile payment users by 2024.

In addition to payment method impacts, traditional loyalty programs built on travel, dining and in-person experiences are struggling. When consumers can’t redeem accumulated rewards points on these types of experiences, there is little incentive to stay loyal to a particular card or business.

For brands who have already invested significantly in their rewards programs, the blow is considerable. To keep generating high customer retention and necessary return on investment, loyalty program creators and managers will need to make sizable shifts in strategy so users stay engaged:

  • Mobile-first is the first priority. In the LATAM market, cards are underused, and contactless payments are done largely through mobile payment systems. An easy-to-understand user interface and a frictionless mobile experience are paramount to keeping users engaged in your rewards program.Starbucks is one example of a brand that revamped their loyalty program to be mobile-centric early in its development. Even more recently, Starbucks added new payment methods inside their app, catering to contactless payment trends by connecting to mobile wallets, allowing users to pay with the app and use points on-demand to redeem for purchases. (Starbucks, 2020) The mobile app functions as a “one stop shop” for customers, enabling them to locate stores, place advance orders, view their dashboard, and pay with their mobile device.


  • Make it on-demand. Traditionally, many loyalty programs will tally a member’s points each month or quarter, and then send a message about the new points accumulation, inviting them to redeem for benefits. This method may save time on the program management front, but for a user, being unable to access or redeem a points balance on their own time decreases overall program engagement. When members don’t have constant access to their points, there is little reason to stay loyal to a card or retailer. By pivoting to an on-demand framework, points are tallied in real time, and users can  check dashboards at their convenience and redeem benefits instantly, instead of waiting for a final count from past purchases. Additionally, users should be able to use their points at any time, on any device. Increasing user accessibility will increase usage of rewards programs, and lead to greater customer retention and loyalty.


  • Make support accessible. Moving to a mobile-first focus and making benefits redemption an on-demand activity may come with additional customer questions. Enabling support options not only on desktop or by phone call, but through mobile-friendly chat functions, will increase customer engagement and lead to greater overall customer satisfaction. (Mobile Payments Today, 2018)


  • Different customers need different rewards. As smartphones have become ubiquitous to customers across the economic spectrum, contactless payment options continue to be adopted by lower-income users as well – finding that mobile banking increases convenience in accessing their money, and taking advantage of new checkout options available to them. These users need rewards program redemption options that make sense to them. Being able to redeem points for cash, especially in a time of economic uncertainty, will keep users across the socioeconomic spectrum engaged with your rewards programs.More affluent users may find less reason to stay loyal to a rewards program with traditional benefits like travel and dining currently lagging. Brands need to get creative with this consumer base, offering outside-the-box benefits options such as long-term investments, luxury in-home experiences, or high-dollar product rewards that can be enjoyed in their living space. (Americas Market Intelligence, 2020)

Improved Access Means Improved Adoption

The traditional paths to building loyalty aren’t all well-suited for the digital age. Today, consumers expect to be able to access their accounts and balances on any device, at any time, with on-demand management of the points they’ve accrued. Members will want greater diversity in redemption opportunities and perks that appeal to them in the moment. When brands provide these options and accessibility, members have reason to stay loyal and engage, keeping a brand’s rewards program top of mind and making the program worthwhile for an organization.

Take Your Rewards Program in the LATAM Market to Even Greater Heights

Brands that issue their own cards for member loyalty increase engagement and brand awareness all at the same time. Issuing your own cards can bring even more power to your rewards program, improving adoption and engagement rates. Download Rapyd’s guide on issuing branded cards and see how such a program can align to your existing loyalty program strategy.


Americas Market Intelligence. (2020, 10 8). 3 TRENDS IN LATAM PAYMENTS POST-COVID AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM. Americas Market Intelligence.

Capgemini. (2012, Unknown Unknown). Next Generation Loyalty Management Systems: Trends, Challenges, and Recommendations. Identita.

Latin American Business Stories. (2019, 12 14). Installments: The key to consumers’ pockets in Latin America. LABS News.,Installments%20(parcelas%20in%20Brazil%2C%20cuotas%20in%20Argentina%2C%20meses%20sin,or%20years%20without%20pa

Mastercard. (2019, 5 27). Consumers in LAC Embrace Fast & Safe contactless payments. Mastercard.

Mobile Payments Today. (2018, 7 11). Visa brings digital loyalty program to partner banks in Latin America, Caribbean. Mobile Payments Today.

NewTech Mag. (2020, 5 13). Contactless payments are getting popular in LatAm. (2020). Visa On Capturing The Digital Payments Opportunity In Latin America. Retrieved 1 10, 2021, from

Starbucks. (2020, 7 21). Starbucks to Update Loyalty Program and App This Fall to Offer More Ways to Pay and Earn Stars. Starbucks Stories & News.


Three People Look Towards The Sunset And The Buildings, Representing How Us Enterprises Can Process Payments In Europe

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