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Argentina: National Digital Payment System Implemented

(Jan. 28, 2021) On December 7, 2020, the Central Bank of Argentina (Banco Central de la República Argentina, BCRA) implemented the first stage in the rollout of a new national digital payment system. The system, named Transferencias 3.0 (Transfers 3.0), will allow any business or company in the country to charge for its services through payments made through a QR code on a mobile phone.

According to the chief of the BCRA, Miguel Pesce, the new payment system is aimed at any users who have a bank account or digital wallet and want to use their mobile phone to pay at a business. Transferencia 3.0 will allow the unification of all Argentine fintech companies and banks in the same means of payment system. The system will be monitored by the BCRA, but it will be managed by four private companies—Prisma, Red Link, Interbanking, and Coelsa—which will facilitate innovation and interoperability.

This first stage of the implementation allows merchants to receive payments from other wallets. Although at the beginning there will be a period of adjustment with only a few participating stores, that number of shops will grow over the weeks.

The unified and interoperable QR code payment system will govern the use of the system in the country, allowing businesses of all sizes to receive money from both bank accounts and electronic wallets.

One of the advantages the new system provides is that payment accreditation will be immediate. Currently, the collection for a payment with a debit card takes 48 hours and with a credit card up to 10 days, subject to a fee of between 0.9% and 1.2 % for each transaction. Under the Transferencia 3.0 payment system, the merchant will receive the money immediately at a cost of 0.8% per transaction, enabling them to lower their costs and thus transfer them to better prices for the consumer. Moreover, the system will be free for the user.

In addition, micro, small, and medium-sized businesses that sign up to use the system will not have to pay commissions on the first 50,000 Argentine pesos (about US$589) that they bill monthly during the first three months of using the service.