Photo via offersafrica.wordpress.com

Hard to believe we have to celebrate this, but I guess this is progress.

Until now, if you had a debit card from an Argentine bank you couldn’t use it for online purchases in the same way you would use a credit card. But finally, El Cronista reports today that that’s all about to change in March after an agreement Prisma payments and Mercado Libre’s Internet payment system, MercadoPago.

Recipients of social plans such as the Universal Child Allowance, pensioners and other waged workers who might not be qualified to own a credit card will now be able to obtain one. This way, those who had to stand in line will now be able to make payments from their computer or mobile phone from home.

But not only consumers are benefited by the novelty. Encouraged by the BCRA, the electronic wallet is also profitable for the card businesses — Internet debit sales have a 1.5 percent fee, against the commission-free transactions that take place when buyers go to the physical stores.

This is good news for sellers as well, given this rate is half the credit card fee of 3 percent. In addition, salesmen receive the money from debit transactions in only 48 hours, while they have to wait up to 18 days to collect what they earn through credit cards.

Another improvement is the possibility buyers will have of seeing a more detailed card statement. So far, all transactions made through MercadoPago appeared under that name, which could be confusing at times and would prompt shoppers to question the purchase and ask for a refund. However, this will change soon — from March onwards, the name of the store where the purchase was made will appear in the card statement.

The Argentine Electronic Commerce Chamber (CACE) will announce the total 2016 e-commerce sales on February 15th, and the number is expected to rise up to AR $100 billion, considering the first semester’s turnover was AR $45 billion. Expectations are even higher for 2017, when millions of consumers will be added to the system.