Many Latin American consumers are ready to leave their wallets at home and begin making payments at retail establishments with their smartphones. The necessary factors of familiarity with technology and willingness to use it are certainly there. In Costa Rica, the mobile payments market is timidly being investigated, despite a strong mobile penetration.
In a recent study released by MasterCard Worldwide, Jurgen Wassmann, head of Emerging Payments for MasterCard Latin America and the Caribbean stated that:
“Latin America is definitely in the right path toward the adoption of mobile payments.”
Mr. Wassman was referring to the findings provided by the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index (MPRI), a data-driven analysis of the mobile payments landscape in 34 developed and developing countries around the world. The MPRI looked at four markets in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. Costa Rica was not part of the MPRI at this time.
According to the Index, Consumer Readiness (which measures how familiar with, how willing to use, and how frequently consumers are currently using all three types of mobile payments) is critical for the success of this payment technology. In Latin America, the highest scores went to Brazil and Colombia. In Latin America, “willingness” varies by market and different consumer factors. In the case of Colombia, a consumer’s willingness to adopt mobile payments actually increases with age, while in Mexico it increases with the consumer’s level of affluence.
Moreover, consumers in Brazil and Mexico are familiar with and willing to adopt mobile payments at almost equal levels. In Argentina, consumers are particularly more willing to use mobile phones to transmit money or peer-to-peer (P2P) payments.
Findings of the MPRI reveal that in order to further mobile payments in Latin America, mobile payments infrastructure and partnerships, among key players such as banks, phone companies and governments, need to be strengthened and solidified.
One of the initiatives that Costa Rica is investigating is mobile payments and limited banking via text-messaging commands that turn a regular feature phone (not a smartphone) into a device that can empower Ticos who don’t have access to mainstream banking. The Costa Rica Star previously reported on this project in the December 2011 article “Electronic Wallets Coming to Costa Rica.”
Thanks to Gabriela Zamora of Asesorias En-Comunicacion for providing the information in this article.