Friday, 11 March 2011

Telefónica and MasterCard bring m-payments to South America

MasterCard and Telefónica announced on 25 January they will introduce mobile payments in 12 countries in South America (SA).

The US payment service provider and the Spanish mobile phone operator said in a statement that a joint venture will ‘offer mobile financial solutions’ through Telefónica’s Movistar network, one of the biggest in SA. Services such as bill payments and retail purchases will be linked to a mobile wallet or prepaid account in, among others, Argentina and Mexico.

“A first of its kind with that scale in Latin America”, said Aiaze Mitha, CEO of Amarante Consulting. “This venture has the potential to transform the payments landscape [in SA].’’
Eduardo Ferrari, Partner at Posadas, Posadas & Vecino in Uruguay, thinks the initiative “is very significant because of the magnitude of the investment and the lead role of its participants in their respective fields as it provides a brand new service”.

The joint venture could be a big step forward in making banking services accessible to millions of unbanked people, since 70% of South Americans do not have a bank account but most of them do own a mobile phone. “It sends a very strong message to the [SA] industry”, said Aiaze Mitha. “A card association is willing to partner directly with mobile operators and align their strategic interests to conquer the unbanked market.”

“The cell phone market has reached costumers of all different ages and asocial structures”, added Ferrari. “There are currently more cell phones than inhabitants in Uruguay.”

Published previously in E-Finance &PL&P, London, 2011. Copyrights apply.