Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Interesting mobile payment activities in South America

I have reported previously on the plans of Telefonica to deploy mobile payment solutions in South America. (Read here). With one of the fastest growing mobile subscriber bases, large un-banked populations and economies dependent on remittance flows, one would have thought that this would have been a fertile space for mobile payment successes. Yet, it seems as if activities are limited to high profile announcements.

Recently, America Movil announced a major commitment to deploying mobile payments in the region. The intention is to create a JV with Citibank called Transfer with an estimated investment of $50 million (Read here). The intention is to roll this out in Mexico first and then to replicate it into other markets in the region. The complexities in regulating a JV between a bank and a mobile operator has proved difficult in other markets, so it will be interesting to see how this pan out.

It seems as if this region may get defined by smaller players with solutions that are deployed swiftly and with a better understanding of the actual needs. Yellow Pepper (read here) is such a player with a large subscriber base in a number of countries in the area. Monique has been working on launching eZuza in Mexico for some time now and it seems as if this is imminent
(read here), whereas Tagattitude (like in many places around the globe) assisted an initiative in Nicaragua called mPeso (read here).

This region will either be defined by the mega-corporations with a lot of resources but a less clear vision or by smaller players with limited capacity but slightly more focused.

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