FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (03/27/2000) - The promise of unbridled growth for Latin America's electronic-commerce market continues luring investors. Today, two e-commerce portals were announced, one of which is owned in part by BancBoston Capital.
Mercantil.com, which is 22 percent owned by BancBoston Capital, offers companies interested in doing business in Latin America a database with over 1 million companies located in México, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. The company, founded in 1999 in Chile, plans to add, before year's end, companies from eight other countries, as well as business-to-business transactional services, such as online procurement and auctions.
Meanwhile, LatinLook.com Inc. bills itself as a business-to-business and business-to-consumer portal focused on helping small and medium-sized companies from Latin America do business over the Web. The portal offers tools for companies to start using the Internet to do business among themselves or with consumers, according to the company. Its services include logistics, shipping, payment authorization, e-mail, instant messaging, chat and e-commerce software, the company said.
Although only about 2 percent of the region's population has Internet access, and e-commerce revenue remains minuscule, a variety of market researchers and industry observers forecast strong growth for the coming years in Latin America. This, in turn, is prompting many companies to enter the region's Internet market, including Microsoft Corp., Spain's Telefónica SA, America Online Inc., Yahoo Inc., PSINet Inc. and Lycos Inc., to mention a few.
By 2003, e-commerce transactions are expected to reach about US$8 billion in Latin America, 75 percent of which will be business-to-business and the rest business-to-consumer, according to International Data Corp. (IDC). That figure would compare with an e-commerce total of $170 million in 1998, IDC says.
A more bullish outlook for business-to-consumer e-commerce in Latin America is offered by Jupiter Communications Inc., which predicts that this sector will grow from a paltry $194 million in 1999 to $8.3 billion in 2005.
A surge in Internet users is also expected. Jupiter's forecast calls for 66.6 million users in the region by 2005, up from 10.6 million in 1999.
LatinLook.com, in Miami, is at 305-569-0076 or at http://www.latinlook.com/.
Mercantil.com, based in Santiago, Chile is at 56-2-244-0044 or at http://www.mercantil.com/.