MASTERCLASSING

Report Studies m-payments in Latin America

David Murphy

Mobile payments service provider Upaid has released its Mobile Payments Report 2009, which assesses the state of the mobile payments industry in Latin America.
Upaid has extensive experience of the m-payments industry in the region, through projects with all the major operators and banks in Brazil, where it enables a cross-border mobile recharge service for a user base of over 50 million consumers. This enables a third party, for example, someone living in the US, to top up the mobile phone credit of someone living in Brazil, so effectively, it's a way for a Brazilian expat living in the US to send money home, without using a credit union.
The report highlights the potential of m-payments in Latin America, a region where mobile subscribers have overtaken their fixed-line counterparts in every country except Cuba. Despite varying levels of development in banking, telecommunications and technology in the region, there is sufficient infrastructure to support payments and remittance by mobile. Meanwhile, regional factors such as Latin Americas history of hyperinflation, it notes, have led to a genuine need for a reliable, quick and accessible personal banking service.
As the largest country and economy in the region, the report points to Brazil as a reliable indicator of what will become successful in Latin America. The rapid growth in access to mobile telecommunications in Brazil has created new opportunities to provide secure, low-cost financial services using the local mobile networks. As a result, the ability to transfer funds safely and securely using mobile phones could revolutionise the way people in Latin America save, spend and transfer their money. It also represents a significant prospective market for mobile operators, financial services, governments, retailers and end users.
Upaid underlines the importance of collaboration from all the players in the market, from handset manufacturers to network operators and banks, if m-payments are to become ubiquitous in Latin America. Without this, it says, the challenges for the consumer will continue to make this process less straightforward and, therefore, more unlikely to take off in the mass market.
Our experience has shown us that mobile payments has massive potential in Latin America as, historically, innate distrust in the banking system has encouraged innovation, says, Upaid CIO, Stephen Gibb. This means the traditional barriers we see in developed markets, where operators and banks struggle to agree on ownership of the customer, do not exist to the same extent. We also found from our own independent research that there is clear demand for this service from consumers. By bringing these findings together with our expertise in the region, as well the latest industry figures, we have produced an authoritative resource on the mobile payments market in Latin America.
You can download the report free of charge here.