Brazil's instant payments system PIX gains popularity among wealthy consumers

The Central Bank's platform is surpassing other payment methods such as debit cards and is more popular among young males at the top of the socioeconomic pyramid, research suggests.

Brazil's recently launched instant payment system PIX is surpassing alternative payment options such as debit cards and is currently more popular among wealthier male consumers, according to new research.

PIX was introduced by the Brazilian Central Bank to allow round-the-clock payments, seven days a week. Fully launched in November 2020, the system is plugged into the platforms of 735 financial services institutions in Brazil, from major banks to fintechs and credit unions.

A study carried out by BS2 Bank with 2.010 account holders across Brazil suggests that 73% of the consumers polled intend to use PIX as a payment method. However, the study also noted uptake is greater among wealthier consumers.

The Brazilian socioeconomic class system is divided between Class A, which can be thought of as upper class, while Class B refers to the upper middle class, Class C encompasses the lower middle class, and D and E refer to the poor and those living in poverty.

Adoption of the instant payments system is higher among the classes A and B, according to the research: 80% of respondents within that profile said they will "definitely" use PIX, or will "probably" use the platform to make instant payments.

In general terms, the new platform is seen as the best payment option by 24% of those polled, followed by credit card (25%) and debit card (22%). Other options such as interbank electronic funds transfers instruments available in Brazil TED and DOC appear were cited by 10% and 3% of the consumers polled, respectively. Transfers made through the TED and DOC systems incur a fee, while PIX is free for individuals.

In terms of advantages, 58% of the survey participants cited the agility in making payments as the main advantage of PIX, while 57% cited the fact that is free as the main upside. The ability to make transfers anytime, including weekends and out of business hours was mentioned by 54% of the consumers surveyed.

Echoing the findings of the BS2 Bank study, a separate report by research firm IBOPEdtm commissioned by Brazilian challenger C6 Bank with 2.000 Internet users countrywide suggests that use of PIX is higher among men aged 25 to 34 years old from Classes A and B.

More generally, 53% of those surveyed would prefer to use PIX rather than a card to pay for goods or services: 45% of respondents said they would use the system in shops, since PIX allows payments to be processed via QR Codes on payment terminals or on the cashier's computer screen. About 56% of survey participants plan on using PIX to pay for their utility bills, according to the study.

The C6 Bank study also noted that PIX saw greater uptake in the North of Brazil, where cities such as Salvador and Fortaleza are located, according to the study, followed by the Southeast, the region known for capitals including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Only 8% of those surveyed did not know, or were uncertain about what the instant payments system is about.

When unveiling PIX in February this year, the Brazilian Central Bank, said the instant payments system was "one of the most important initiatives of the year" for the institution and forms part of a series of upcoming innovations this year through to 2021.The system is also seen as an important instrument to boost the economy, through the reduction of transaction costs for consumers and small businesses, since the system can initiate a shift away from card terminals towards a digital set-up.