The Mexican central bank and Amazon are in talks to introduce a government-approved mobile payment system, according to reports.
The system would involve users paying for online purchases using QR codes, and it would be the first time Amazon offered the technology in the country. In Mexico, half of the population is unbanked, so the move could eventually provide Amazon with a new customer base.
The system is called CoDi, and its goal is to bring more people into the financial sector. It’s being developed by Banco de Mexico — known as Banxico — Mexico’s central bank. CoDi will let users pay online or in person through mobile devices using QR codes. The beta is scheduled to be released this month.
Jaime Cortina, Banxico’s director of operations and payments, told Reuters that both Amazon and rival MercadoLibre both went to the bank about helping with the system.
“They have also said that they could implement it relatively quickly,” Cortina said.
Phone-based banking has had success in other international emerging markets like China, India and Kenya.
Cortina said adoption should be easy for online retailers and banks. There’s a large opportunity for growth in the mobile payments sector, as only 3.9 percent of retail sales in Mexico were made online in 2018.
Mexico’s new government, led by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is hoping that financial technology can help to lift people out of poverty, and he said that CoDi adoption could mark a step toward that ultimate goal.
In November, Amazon announced that it its voice-activated digital assistant Alexa and its smart speaker Echo were available in Mexico.
In a press release, Amazon said Alexa earned to speak and understand Spanish tailored for the Mexican market. What’s more, the company said developers around the world were making skills and devices for Alexa for Mexican customers. “Tens of millions of customers around the world are already using Alexa, and today we’re excited to introduce the service to our customers in Mexico,” Amazon Alexa Vice President Toni Reid said in the press release. “We’ve built an entirely new experience from the ground up that honors Mexican culture, enabling customers to just ask to play their favorite music, get the news and weather, control their smart home, set reminders, enjoy local skills, and more. Plus, in addition to Echo, device makers like Sonos, Bose, and Harman Kardon are also launching devices with Alexa built-in. This experience has been custom-made for Mexico, and we cannot wait to hear what our customers think.”