Mercado Pago joins forces with supermarkets and gets into the business of collecting taxes

To cushion the drop in tax collection, around 20 GBA municipalities have just implemented a system to collect taxes online through Mercado Pago. They calculate that with digital payments they will be able to reduce delinquency by up to 15%, which has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. Simultaneously, the company created by Marcos Galperin has also been adding supermarkets, Chinese supermarkets and wholesale chains as partners, and to date there are more than 9,300 stores that are enabled to pay for purchases with QR code.

Both data confirm the greater penetration of the digital channel and mobile payments, two alternatives that are becoming popular driven by the pandemic and quarantine restrictions. The one that best capitalizes it is Mercado Pago, Mercado Libre’s thriving financial leg, which to date has 3.5 million digital wallets and more than 700,000 member businesses. The most innovative thing is the collection of taxes from the official portals in provinces, cities and municipalities, such as Jujuy, Córdoba, La Rioja and Neuquén, Trelew and Puerto Madryn. In recent weeks, several Buenos Aires municipal governments have joined, including Tigre, San Fernando, Pilar, San Isidro, Lomas de Zamora and Vicente López.

Héctor Huergo brings the highlights of agribusiness and regional economies.
The mechanism consists of coupling the Mercado Pago system to process online tax and tax payments from the web. With a view to improving collection, on the one hand, and increasing the user base, on the other, they set as a hook the possibility of obtaining “a 10% discount on the first payment of municipal taxes, with a ceiling of $ 500” to those who pay through those platforms. The only requirement is to be registered in Mercado Pago, “a procedure totally online and that takes 3 minutes on average,” they said from the company.

At the same time, Mercado Pago tries to expand its influence in retail trade, with special emphasis on mass consumption. Without going any further, Coto announced this week that “QR payment is already implemented in its more than 120 branches”, as an alternative means of payment to credit, debit and cash cards. According to Mercado Pago, “between February and July of this year, QR payments in supermarkets grew more than 500%”, in parallel with the boom in online shopping and the option of delivery. In this sense, the sector recognizes that Coto is the most advanced chain in eCommerce: its digital sales already represent 15% of its income.

The QR payment expands horizontally. In Mercado Pago they point out that it has already been implemented in half of the Chinese supermarkets, and in a large part of the wholesalers, such as Vital, Makro, Diarco, Caromar, Yaguar and Nini. Also in Carrefour (30% of its points of sale), in 10% of the Dia stores, among others. “At the beginning of this year we launched it in some branches to test it and during the quarantine we took it to the rest of the stores to avoid possible points of contact and contagion,” they told Clarín from Walmart.

Mercado Pago’s businesses represent close to 40% of Mercado Libre’s revenues. Last week, it set a new record on the New York Stock Exchange, with a capitalization of $ 60 billion. Yesterday, it was just below that figure but still managed to position itself for the first time as the most valuable company in South America, surpassing the Brazilian mining company Vale (US $ 57,250 million).

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