Latin American and the Caribbean have fastest growth in mobile financial services globally

Date: Mon, 05/18/2015 - 17:59 Source: GSMA press department

Region experiencing 50 per cent growth rate in new registered mobile money accounts, with 37 services live in 19 countries
Latin American and the Caribbean have fastest growth in mobile financial services globally

Woman with mobile phone in Santiago de Chile

Photographer: Victor Ruiz / Source: GSMA and Decisive Media

At the Mobile 360 Latin America event, the GSMA issued the report, ‘Mobile Financial Services in Latin America and the Caribbean: state of play, commercial models and regulatory approaches’, which examines the current state of mobile financial services across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region. The report outlines important advances in mobile money adoption in the region, showing that nearly two thirds of markets have at least one live mobile money service. Today, there are a total of 37 mobile money services, accounting for roughly 14.9 million registered mobile money accounts, in 19 countries in the region. This includes seven new services launched in Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama and Peru since 2014.
The report provides an analysis of commercial models being employed in different markets; discusses the regulatory evolution that has helped shape the industry; and investigates demographics and many other market factors that play a critical role in the development and growth of new and successful commercial models for mobile money.
“Great progress has been made in deepening financial inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean over the last three years,” said Sebastian Cabello, Head, GSMA Latin America. “The region has seen a major increase in the number of adults with bank accounts, however, approximately half of all adults in LAC still remain unbanked. Mobile money services are a powerful tool for expanding financial access in developing markets and will play a critical role in continuing to build a healthy digital financial ecosystem in the region.”
The report underscores that while there is no standardised commercial model for mobile money services, an open and level playing field, where regulation allows both banks and non-banks to provide mobile money services, is essential for mobile money to succeed. In this context and bolstered by the contributions of banks and mobile operators in select markets, LAC has emerged as a strong mobile money newcomer. Last year the region had the fastest growth in new registered mobile money accounts in the world, with a 50 per cent growth rate. A greater number of deployments are also reaching scale, with three mobile money services crossing the 1 million active customer milestone as of April 2015. Moreover, El Salvador, Honduras and Paraguay are amongst the top 15 markets globally in terms of the proportion of adults actively using mobile money.
Of particular note, as of December 2014, over a quarter of all mobile money transaction volumes in LAC were from transactions involving third parties, such as bill payments, bulk payments and merchant payments, up from just 14 per cent in 2012. By comparison, in East Africa, the home of the world’s most successful mobile money deployments, only six per cent of all transaction volumes were ecosystem transactions. This is particularly important in the LAC region because ecosystem transactions are critical to realising the full potential of mobile financial services, although they are traditionally the most difficult products to gain traction in a mobile money market.
Cabello continued, “Widespread adoption and usage of mobile financial services in LAC still has a long way to go, but we are encouraged by the growth of successful deployments in the region, and the range of business models being adopted. Competition is clearly heating up, and with it, the level of investment and interest from the private sector.”


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