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In Mexico, Online Turns To Cash Payments

02/20/2018 - Tom Pierce

[Editor's note: Reprinted with the permission of, the following article originally appeared in the 
February 14, 2018 issue of as an introduction to our latest Global Cash Index report, this time on cash use in Mexico.]

Cash plays an outsized role in Mexico’s economy. Whether it’s a convenience store, a restaurant or an online marketplace, when it comes to running a business in Mexico, accepting cash is not an option, but a necessity for survival.

And that’s a lesson major e-tailers in Mexico are taking to heart. As players like Amazon and Walmart work to cut themselves a larger chunk of the country’s $17 billion eCommerce market, they are doing so by introducing “hybrid payment systems,” which accommodate cash-based transactions for online purchases.

Mexico report cover_2.2018All told, roughly 90 percent of Mexico’s population prefers to make payments using cash. And, with such a significant share of the population keeping cash flowing, the country’s economy is positioned to stay cash-heavy for years to come, according to the findings inside the Global Cash Index™: Mexico Edition.

In 2016, Mexico’s predilection for cash outpaced that of neighboring nations with a cash share of 26.1 percent, higher that the rate seen in Brazil (21.4 percent) and the U.S. (12.7 percent).

Some of the factors keeping cash in its place atop the Mexican economy is the accessibility of financial infrastructure. PYMNTS found Mexico has a low rate of ATMs, bank branches and POS systems per 100,000 people compared to other nations. This limited access to modern financial infrastructure means lower demand for payment options, like debit and credit cards.

The Index, which includes more than 225 data points, highlights how cash is influencing various markets in Mexico.

 Other key findings in the Global Cash Index™: Mexico Edition:

  • Mexico has an average of 37.7 ATMs per 100,000 people, considerable lower than Brazil (84.7 ATMs per 100,000).
  • Mexico's population also has a low rate of access to bank branches, with 10.3 bank branches per 100,000 people.
  • In 2016, the nation's cash share of GDP stood at 26.1 percent.
  • Mexico has a large underbanked population - only 14 percent of citizens receive income through direct deposit to a bank account. 


Mexico’s Cash Influence Directly Impacts eCommerce
As eCommerce expands in Mexico, retailers are realizing that allowing consumers to pay for orders using cash is key to survival.

Several eCommerce players have introduced solutions designed to enable consumers to order products online, then pick up their orders at nearby convenience stores, pharmacies and banks, paying with cash once they arrive. Other companies offer cash on demand or prepaid methods, aimed at allowing Mexican shoppers to receive home delivery on their orders.

To gain insights into how cash is integrated into Mexico’s online shopping habits, PYMNTS spoke with Georgina Lara Sánchez, payments regional manager for Linio México, and Christian León, country manager for Mexico at Mercado Pago, the payment processing division of Argentinian eCommerce platform MercadoLibre, about how the companies integrate cash into their business model and appeal to Mexico’s consumer base.

For eCommerce players, León said, offering card-based payment methods is not enough – cash is a crucial payments instrument.

“In the end, what we are doing here is to include more people,” he said. “We are trying to democratize eCommerce, and for that it’s important to offer cash payments.”

Download the report for more data and insights that highlight the role of cash in Mexico’s economy.

About the Index
The Global Cash Index™, a Cardtronics collaboration, focuses on the use of cash for making payments, and as a payment method that equally plays a role with cards, checks, direct debit and other methods of settling up between consumers and businesses. Unlike most reported estimates of cash, our proprietary data analysis focuses on the use of cash for making payments rather than hoarding.