Digital Inclusion Could Become Constitutional Right In Brazil

June 16, 2022
Brazil is proposing a constitutional change to add the right for digital inclusion to the list of fundamental rights.

Brazil is proposing a constitutional change to add the right for digital inclusion to the list of fundamental rights.

The proposal would build into the country’s Constitution that “the right to digital inclusion is guaranteed to all, and public authorities must promote policies aimed at expanding access to the internet throughout the national territory”.

The motion was authored by Simone Tebet, a member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party and a candidate for President in this year’s general elections, and aligns with the country’s wider plans to promote digital inclusion.

In June 2021, the Ministry of Communications negotiated with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) to receive an investment of $2bn in digital inclusion in the country, including $1bn spent specifically in the remote Amazon region.

Later in January, the OECD Council opened discussions with Brazil to accept the country to the organisation and set out a number of conditions and the process for Brazil’s accession. Among these, the draft roadmap establishes that Brazil should implement effective institutions and legal frameworks to foster an inclusive digital transformation.

With most innovative financial products relying on smartphones, computers and other digital means, digital inclusion is typically seen as a key element to spur financial inclusion, commerce and economic growth.

Although Latin America as a region has historically had high levels of unbanked and underbanked population, Brazil has been one of the most successful markets in addressing this issue and has been at the forefront of financial inclusion initiatives in the region.

An early success was the expansion of what the central bank calls banking correspondents in the early 2000s. This was a measure aimed at extending services to bank clients in areas where that bank did not have a branch. Local retailers were permitted to offer basic banking services.

More recently, the launch of the new instant payment system PIX at the end of 2020 has been a major success.

In its first year of existence, the instant payment service reached 104m users, or 62 percent of the adult population of Brazil, and contributed to a surge in online shopping.

“[PIX] instant payments and digital wallets have paved the way to a major shift to digital commerce for Latin Americans,” EBANX payment platform said in an analysis.

“Instant payments and digital wallets are the fastest-growing means of creating broader financial inclusion and access to more goods and services purchased online in Latin America, which is one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce markets,” said Paula Bellizia, president of global payments at EBANX.

“They’re connecting more businesses with consumers, many of whom are first-time digital shoppers who desire more variety and instant gratification. And the rise of this new ‘instant economy’ is a vital way for merchants to unlock the huge potential of the LatAm market and grow their slice of an increasingly lucrative pie.”

This trend is expected to take off even more, with the latest research from e-marketer predicting that Latin America will be leading the pack together with Southeast Asia in retail e-commerce growth in 2022, with Brazil contributing a significant proportion.

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