Reaching Consumers Via Credit Cards: A Real Problem In Brazil

Published: 08/01/2017

Online retailers trying to reach global consumers are often frustrated by the different characteristics of transactions in individual countries, whether large or small. Consider the case of Brazil, a country with the fifth largest population and the ninth largest GDP in the world, according to 2016 statistics from the World Bank.

In the second in a series of interviews, GoInterpay VP of Business Development (and friend of Getting to Global) Matthew Cannon explains that although a relatively high rate of online transactions in Brazil are paid via credit cards, Brazilian consumers are hard to reach for global retailers who haven’t set up local payment solutions. Matt explains why here:

The problem with national cards

Among online credit card transactions by Brazilian consumers, more than two thirds use so-called “national cards.” Those cards only accept transactions using local currency – the Brazilian Real – and may only be processed through Brazilian banks.

For a retailer based elsewhere – the U.S., for example – the lack of a local payment solution in Brazil presents a problem as there is no way to process a credit card transaction for a consumer who has only a national card. That translates to lost business for retailers, even when consumers want to complete a transaction.

Fees and taxes

Even when consumers do have international cards, there are still hurdles to overcome. Of the roughly 30% of online transactions involving international cards, the issuing banks charge high foreign exchange transaction fees that discourage purchasing. Moreover, the Brazilian government levies the Imposto Sobre Operacoes Financeiras (IOF) tax, a 6.38% tax on cross-border transactions.

Local payments are crucial to success in Brazil

Every country is different, but the case of Brazil illustrates many of the issues retailers frequently have when they seek to globalize.

Given its high population, which has surpassed 210 million people, and its massive GDP, which has exceeded $2 trillion in recent years, Brazil represents a huge opportunity for growing merchants who hope to gain access to a burgeoning market. But without a local payment solution to overcome systemic barriers to doing business, retailers easily leave money on the table while failing to reach consumers who want to buy what they’re selling.


Video made possible with support from

To view additional great content to help you sell more online, overseas, subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out our partner sites!

Subscribe to the Getting to Global channel:

Become a member of the Global Retail Insights Network:

Visit a government sites:

U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration


U.S. Small Business Administration’s export assistance site

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s export assistance site
EXIM’s small business resource

This video, blog and audio series and all content provided on this site are intended to provide a resource to U.S. exporters. Our content is continuing to grow, expand and adjust based on the changing and evolving market dynamics. It is not comprehensive. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the the International Trade Administration, Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, EXIM Bank or any other government agency. The collaborators of this site have performed limited due diligence research; but we strongly recommend that you perform your own due diligence investigation and background research on any company or service we profile in this series. We assume no responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the information and concepts described throughout our content.

Export Connect logo
Have questions?

Send us an email at