Is Latin America ready for technology disruption?
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3rd August 2017

In Latin America today, the status quo is under attack, and the weaponry of change is technology.
From corrupt politicians caught blindsided by damning recordings on social media to a taxi industry up-ended by Uber, to a media industry undermined by Netflix, mobile-enabled technology is delivering unprecedented levels of transparency, efficiency and upheaval to Latin American society and industry. Connectivity of the region is the ultimate trade barrier buster. Virtual products such as TV shows, movies, e-books, and video games are rolled out globally as quickly as they are translated, bypassing oligarchical structures in media and publishing. Brazilian electronics consumers—who traditionally pay three times the retail price for the same goods in the U.S. or Asia—can now buy their next laptop or cellphone directly from a Chinese manufacturer. Even after paying import tariffs, e-shoppers save 30 to 40 percent versus buying in a store.
Latin American e-commerce is growing at close to 20 percent per year; sales of virtual products, that suffer no logistics hurdles, are growing at over 100 percent per year. (For example, Uber’s LAC division grew tenfold from 2015 to 2016.) More growth potential is there. Brick and mortar retail space per capita in Latin America is about 15 percent that in the United States. Outside the region’s top 10 cities, traditional retail options are limited.
Latin America is a low-trust society where commerce is normally conducted between well- known …

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