By Daina Beth Solomon
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc launched its first-ever debit card on Tuesday in Mexico, part of a push to encourage shoppers without bank accounts to buy online.
Internet retailers and brick-and-mortar chains in Mexico are investing heavily in e-commerce as the sector gains in popularity, although it is still a small fraction of total retail sales.
Part of the challenge is attracting consumers who are wary of online fraud and do not have access to credit and debit cards. Less than a third of adults in Mexico have credit cards, according to a 2017 government report.
Amazon said that Mexico was the first country where it has offered a debit card, called Amazon Rechargeable, aiming to give customers a new method to shop on its website.
"Clients that don't have a credit or debit card will find Amazon Rechargeable an easy and practical way to convert cash into a payment method," said Fernando Ramirez, Amazon's product manager in Mexico, in a statement.
Easy-access debit cards could help pull people into the formal economy, especially if tied to shopping promotions, Actinver analyst Carlos Hermosillo Bernal said.
"How do you bring formality to the informal sector? You have to make a bridge," he said.
Shopping chains typically offer credit but rarely debit cards, Hermosillo Bernal added. Amazon's card, backed by MasterCard and Mexican bank Grupo Financiero Banorte, can be loaded with cash at convenience stores across the country.
Amazon last October began offering a cash payment system at convenience stores including 7-Eleven, similarly targeting shoppers without credit cards.
(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)