“Tourist dollar” preferential rate now available for digital wallets

Foreign users of PayPal, Amazon Pay, Pix, and other services will now get the higher MEP rate

Foreign tourists who use digital wallets to pay with US dollars in Argentina will get 91% more pesos per dollar now, as per a resolution enforced yesterday by the Central Bank. 

Specifically, the monetary authority made the preferential “foreign tourist dollar” exchange rate —launched last year for international debit and credit cards— available to be used with platforms such as PayPal, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, and others.

The measure means said platforms will stop using the official exchange rate —now at AR$226.16— and start converting their dollars at the “MEP” (“Electronic Payment Market”) dollar exchange rate, which closed on Friday at AR$432.35.

Sources close to the matter confirmed to the Herald that the measure encompasses every digital wallet, although it was designed for Brazilian tourists who use Pix, an instant payment platform managed by the Central Bank of Brazil.

The tourist dollar was launched on November 4 as a way to make the country cheaper for tourists and dissuade them from going to illegal exchange houses that offer the “blue” dollar exchange rate. The government also hoped the measure would boost reserve accumulation. According to the Tourism Ministry, the greatest takeup was from Brazilians.

“Foreign operators of those wallets will have to reach agreements with local administrators to be able to pass on to their financial users the benefit of making payments with QR to businesses throughout the country,” the press release by the Central Bank read.

According to the statement, non-resident tourists will be able to pay for any type of consumption in the country, including tourist services, and transportation by land if the destination is within Argentina.

The Central Bank did not respond to a Herald’s inquiry on whether the exchange rate work with Argentine residents who pay with digital wallets. Argentine residents who have foreign credit cards can also take advantage of the original “foreign tourist” exchange rate because the Economy Ministry currently has no way of telling whether a cardholder is a resident.


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