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Inclusive Growth: Could Peru Lead Mobile Money Uptake in Latin America?

Editor’s Note: At the upcoming World Economic Forum, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga will lead a public session on Inclusive Growth in the Digital Age. In advance, we are hosting an Inclusive Growth series on our blog, inviting others to share perspectives.

I’m happy to share that 16 million Movistar (Telefonica’s Mobile brand in Peru) customers are now able to use “Tu Dinero Movil” (”Your Mobile Money”), the first mobile money program in Peru.

The program  is an open-loop mobile implementation, leveraging a standardized MasterCard Product Bundle (A MasterCard Prepaid and Companion card, MoneySend and our Mobile Gateway), allowing users to send and receive money, make purchases at MasterCard merchants and buy airtime  minutes without needing a bank account or credit history.

In a country where 70% of the population is currently outside the financial mainstream, having access to an electronic form of money can be extraordinarily powerful and can have a massive impact in creating financial and social inclusion to financially marginalized consumers.

tu-dinero-movil

We are optimistic about this implementation in Peru, as proprietary studies done in the market have indicated that consumers in the country see the cell phone as a suitable tool to perform financial transactions. The mobile device is considered personal, secure and easy to use. Even more, when considering that mobile penetration reached almost 101% in Peru last year, it looks like the perfect vehicle for financial inclusion.

A further testament to positive consumer adoption is the uptake during the soft launch done in 2014 – which yielded positive results. Thousands of customers are using the service in the three cities where it was offered. This is all before any formal advertising of the service was done.

I believe that part of the level of adoption so far, is that we’ve designed a solution that works on any type of mobile device – whether it’s a feature phone, which still dominates in Latin America or a smart phone which are rapidly growing in popularity and penetration.

If we add to this, the country’s recently implemented regulatory frame that opens the door to both banks (having regulated access to mobile technologies) and non-traditional players like MNO’s  with the ability to issue electronic money as a means to promote financial inclusion – we have a market that is ripe to become a success story in mobile money uptake in Latin America.

“Tu Dinero Movil” has filed to be one of the first Electronic Money Issuers in Peru and it was built in a way so it could be part of an interoperable Mobile Payments ecosystem. Needless to say, we’re excited about the potential and evolution of “Your Mobile Money” in Peru.

In a country where people hardly go anywhere without their phones, if we are able to show how this tool, that is currently in the consumer’s pockets anyway, could further simplify their life – seamlessly and safely – millions of consumers will have a more financially included existence. Further, with this vision of interoperability and scalability, we see a successful future of innovative, open and inclusive form of payment in Peru.