International

Brazil's The Bellwether For Mobile Payments

Brazil is one of the fastest-growing payments markets in the world, with the most developed card market in Latin America and boasting 70 percent of the total ecommerce transactions in the region -- and now mobile payments may be about to take off there, according to American Banker.

The country has more mobile phones in Brazil than people (272.4 million subscriptions for a population of 199 million) and is the fourth-largest mobile market in the world, and 65 million adults -- about half the adult population -- are unbanked. But uptake of mobile payments has been slow, and Brazil has been compared to pre-MPesa Kenya.

However, Brazil has new regulations that encourage competition in mobile payments for both mobile operators and payment services providers, and is creating a system of interoperability with the fees and commissions carefully overseen by the Central Bank. There has also been a heavy emphasis on NFC and contactless in the region, with the rollout of multiple pilot projects.

Smartphones also outsold feature phones for the first time in 2013, and Visa is pushing contactless technology for the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

That ongoing effort involving mobile operators, card brands and government to make the infrastructure primed for large scale consumer acceptance means that the future of payments in Brazil could be much more weighted towards the mobile than any other payment method, the newspaper said.

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