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Coronavirus creates strong demand for mobile wallets in Latin America

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Latin America is seeing a surge in digital wallet adoption as governments seek ways to disburse coronavirus aid to vulnerable citizens, and consumers look for safe alternatives to cash.

The need for digital payments infrastructure has led Latin American governments and banks to partner with each other and with fintechs in order to accelerate the move away from cash.

Unlike developed economies such as the U.S. and Canada, where governments leveraged virtually universal banking penetration among their populations to disburse coronavirus aid digitally, Latin American economies are cash-based, with high levels of unbanked and underbanked consumers. According to the World Bank, in 2017, 207 million Latin Americans were financially excluded from the banking system. including 59 million Mexicans and 48 million Brazilians,

Disbursing government aid via cash handouts at Latin American banks is slow and risky because of COVID-19. According to the BBC, in Brazil queues of unregistered workers outside banks, trying to get government handouts worth $115 a month, have become a common sight; but millions are yet to receive aid.

So Latin American governments have used whatever digital payments infrastructure is available, with mobile wallet accounts being the favorite. “In 2018, 64% of the region’s population had smartphones, which they can use for mobile payments and financial services,” said Edrizio De La Cruz, CEO of Latin American fintech-as-a-service provider Arcus.

The mobile wallet space in Latin America is suddenly white-hot, not just because consumers want to use contactless payments, but because mobile wallets provide a gateway for emergency government aid, according to Elizabeth McQuerry, a partner at U.S.-based Glenbrook Partners. Mobile wallet adoption has been facilitated by the proliferation of new financial regulations enabling fintechs to offer low-value accounts throughout the region.

“Brazil is providing aid for 54 million vulnerable citizens, including millions of unbanked people, through payments to mobile savings accounts,” said Jeffrey Bower, principal of Bower & Partners Consulting Services. “Only 24 hours after its emergency aid registration website and app went live, the federal government had processed applications from over 25 million Brazilians, with 40% opting to open digital accounts.”

The Brazilian federal government is using the Caixa Tem mobile app from state-owned bank Caixa Econômica Federal to enroll unbanked and underbanked recipients and disburse COVID-19 aid. So far this year, Caixa has opened 41 million new low-value accounts using the Caixa Tem app, McQuerry said.

Shoppers wearing protective masks take an escalator in the Patio Brasil shopping mall in Brasilia, Brazil.

Shoppers wearing protective masks take an escalator in the Patio Brasil shopping mall in Brasilia, Brazil.

Bloomberg News

There have been some highly successful public-sector collaborations with fintechs to disburse emergency aid in Brazil and Colombia. “In Brazil, state governments are using mobile wallets from payments institutions such as PicPay to disburse funds,” McQuerry said.

Another Brazilian mobile wallet being used for emergency aid is Conta Zap (account Zap), which uses WhatsApp to distribute private-sector donations to people.

Reuters reports that the number of PicPay mobile wallet users in Brazil reached 20 million in early May, as social isolation measures to combat COVID-19 accelerated the search for digital financial services.

The Colombian government has used payments institutions such as Movii to get financial assistance to its population. These institutions, which specialize in electronic deposits and payments, are known as SEDPEs (Sociedades Especializadas en Depósitos y Pagos Electrónicos).

In Argentina, two mobile wallets, Ualá and Cuenta DNI, have seen significant growth during COVID-19. Ualá told the Financial Times that, in the first month after lockdown, it had issued almost 140,000 prepaid debit cards and that it is signing up almost half a percent of Argentina’s 44 million population each month.

Cuenta DNI (account DNI), which is provided by Banco de la Provincia, now has over 1 million users, including 427,000 people who receive COVID-19 aid through the app.

In Guatemala, the government uses the Visa Direct system to send emergency aid to 2 million families so they can buy essential goods using codes sent to their cellphones. “Working with Guatemala’s entire financial and payments ecosystem was key to developing an interoperable, integrated, efficient and secure system for the disbursement of these relief funds,” said Ralph Koker, VP of digital solutions at Visa Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Besides their use for receiving emergency aid, COVID-19 has led to a big rise in usage of mobile wallets for P2P transfers, for paying merchants, and for utility bill payments,” said Lariza Galindo, a Latin American digital transformation lead at the International Finance Corporation (IFC). “The Latin American mobile wallet market is now getting very crowded with a large number of providers.”

The Latin American on-demand delivery platform Rappi, for example, provides the RappiPay wallet which consumers use to pay for home delivery of items purchased from Rappi merchants.

Signing up with digital-only banks has been another route for moving from cash to digital payments. Two digital-only banks, Nequi, owned by Bancolombia, and Brazil’s Nubank are both seeing surges in new customers due to COVID-19.

Nubank said that at the end of May 2020 it had 25 million customers in Brazil and Mexico and was signing up 42,000 new users a day in the first quarter of 2020.

In Brazil alone, Nubank saw online purchases with its virtual cards grow by 31% between March 24 and April 24 this year. This was due to a demand for online streaming services and home delivery during COVID-19 lockdowns. Similar demand helped Nequi to achieve 300% growth in customers in May 2020, Galindo said.

Another key driver of digital wallet growth is partnerships between fintechs and banks.

“A trend we’re seeing is that Latin American payments services providers realize it isn’t just about offering digital payments but about ecosystems,” said Martin Spahr, a specialist in financial inclusion and digital services at the IFC. “So they are developing more robust ecosystems providing additional services to consumers and to small stores to ensure that digital payments acceptance increases.”

With incumbent players charging credit card merchant fees ranging from 2% to 4% of the transaction value and steep credit card interest rates of 200-300%, Latin America is ripe for fintech disruptors.

“The region offers an attractive environment for fintechs in which to provide alternative mobile payments solutions that are cheaper to consumers and merchants than the incumbents’ alternatives,” said Arkwright Consulting partner Francesco Burelli.

Peru’s BIM (Billeteria Móvil/mobile wallet) is a pioneering example of multiple players collaborating to develop a payments ecosystem. Launched in 2016 by Pagos Digitales Peruvianos (Peruvian Digital Payments), a subsidiary of the Peruvian banking association ASBANC (Asociación de Bancos del Perú), BIM is a mobile wallet for unbanked consumers. Supported by 30 Peruvian financial institutions and mobile money issuers plus four telcos, BIM had 800,000 users prior to COVID-19.

In January 2020, three Peruvian banks, BBVA, Interbank and Scotiabank, partnered with Miami-based fintech YellowPepper to launch PLIN, a real-time platform enabling consumers to send funds to customers of different banks 24/7, free of charge and using only cell phone numbers. PLIN, which uses the Visa Direct payment rail, is designed to be interoperable between Peruvian banks; five additional banks are expected to join the platform in the next six months.

Serge Elkiner, YellowPepper’s CEO, said that PLIN now has 1 million users and that, between April 2020 and May, usage of PLIN had grown by 100% due to COVID-19. Initially, PLIN just offers P2P transfers, and YellowPepper plans to add consumer-to-merchant payments later this year.

“PLIN is one of the largest Visa Direct P2P programs in Latin America,” said Koker.

Source: https://www.paymentssource.com/news/coronavirus-creates-strong-demand-for-mobile-wallets-in-latin-america

Fintech

Software-based facial recognition in payments industry to dominate by 2025

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A new report from Juniper Research predicts that software-based facial recognition to secure payments will be almost ubiquitous by 2025, thanks in part to Apple’s FaceID implementation.

According to the firm, there will be more than 1.4 billion users of facial recognition software used for payments alone in 2025, up from 671 million in 2020.

Apple’s FaceID is driving growth in the wider facial recognition market, even though masks and other facial coverings have become more common since COVID-19.

Beyond facial recognition technologies, fingerprint sensors and voice recognition are also picking up significant momentum.

“Hardware-based facial recognition is growing, but the ability to carry out facial recognition via software is limiting its adoption rate,” explains Juniper Research and author of the research report, Susan Morrow, says.

“As the need for a secure mobile authentication environment grows, smartphone vendors will need to increasingly turn to more robust hardware-based systems to keep pace with fraudsters’ evolving tactics.”

According to the Mobile Payment Authentication: Biometrics, Regulation & Market Forecasts 2021-2025 report, fingerprint sensors will be on 93% of smartphones with biometric hardware by 2025, while hardware-based facial recognition will only be on 17% of phones.

Voice recognition for payments is gaining popularity: In 2020 voice recognition had 111 million users – this is expected to rise dramatically to more than 704 million users by 2025.

Juniper Research states that voice recognition is primarily used in banking, and there are few other ways in which it can expand. The reason for this lack of growth could be due to robustness concerns.

“Juniper Research recommends that vendors adopt a multi-method biometric strategy, which encompasses facial recognition, fingerprints, voice and behavioural indicators to ensure a secure payment environment.”

To read more, please click on the link below…

Source: Software-based facial recognition in payments industry to dominate by 2025

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Source: https://australianfintech.com.au/software-based-facial-recognition-in-payments-industry-to-dominate-by-2025/

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Innovative middleware platform Doshii signs up three new POS partners

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Australian middleware cloud platform and hospitality app marketplace provider Doshii has signed on three new Point of Sale (POS) partners, giving more venues the opportunity to cut through the app chaos and streamline their operating systems.

The three new partners – Abacus, Splitability, and MSL (SwiftPOS and Infogenesis) – will provide their venues with direct access to Doshii’s growing range of ordering, delivery, reservation, loyalty program, payment, rostering and other business apps.

Doshii CEO Justin O’Donnell said the partnerships will make it easier for venues to manage and maximise the performance of their online channels.

“These new partnerships will enable hospitality businesses to use Doshii to connect and sync with a multitude of information software platforms and apps needed to run a hospitality business, all through their partnered POS systems,” Justin said.

“Doshii effectively creates an integrated ‘one-stop-shop’ for all the home delivery and in-venue ordering, business management, data, and customer loyalty program apps with venues’ POS system.

“It assists with reducing labour costs involved with rekeying orders, and helps minimise mistakes that lead to product wastage and unhappy customers.

“Ultimately, it improves revenue, reduces operational costs and increases efficiency.”

Justin said the new partnerships would reduce development, maintenance and support expenses for the partners by leveraging Doshii as an integration provider along with 24/7 monitoring and proactive support.

“Giving our partners’ venues access to the Doshii ecosystem ultimately enhances the increasingly tech-savvy consumer experience – and happy customers lead to a more successful hospitality business,” he said.

“Doshii also has a full menu management system to allow venue operators to manage their menus from a central platform. All styles of hospitality operator will benefit from less time managing menus across multiple apps.

“We have experienced unprecedented uptake following last year’s COVID-19 restrictions, largely due to Doshii’s ability to help venues seamlessly ‘tech up’ and allow businesses to focus on what they’re actually good at – be it making and serving burgers or mixing cocktails – without distraction or delay.”

Doshii’s partnership with MSL’s POS venues will enable those venues to connect directly to the likes of Deliveroo, Mr Yum, OrderUp and Mobi2Go, along with their existing partner me&u, and reservations apps including OpenTable and Resy.

Justin said as venue operators emerged from COVID-enforced lockdowns, they were increasingly looking for ways to increase their revenue streams.

“These new partnerships will help venues achieve this, while also allowing them to digitally manage their menus via Doshii.”

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Source: https://australianfintech.com.au/innovative-middleware-platform-doshii-signs-up-three-new-pos-partners/

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Splitit partners with UnionPay, the world’s largest card network of 9 billion cardholders

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Splitit, a global payment technology company, announces a new global partnership with UnionPay International, part of China UnionPay, the provider of bank card services and a major card scheme in mainland China.

UnionPay International will be integrating Splitit to make it available to its network. This will give UnionPay cardholders and those accepting UnionPay the opportunity to utilize Splitit’s installment payments product.

The UnionPay global acceptance network has expanded to 180 countries and regions, covering over 55 million merchants. Outside the Chinese Mainland, UnionPay is accepted at over 32 million merchants. To date, over 9 billion UnionPay cards (debit and credit) are issued in 68 countries and regions, among which over 150 million are issued outside mainland China. All UnionPay credit cardholders will be able to use Splitit’s interest- and fee-free installment payment option at any merchant offering Splitit from June FY21.

“The cooperation with Splitit is a remarkable milestone for UnionPay to further deepen its cooperation with partners in the South Pacific region,” said Jiangtao Jian, General Manager, UnionPay International South Pacific branch. “We’re excited to bring this partnership with Splitit to UPI customers globally so they can benefit from increased flexibility in how they pay.”

“Partnering with UnionPay opens up our solution to UnionPay credit card holders, building on our existing card partner networks. It combines our unique installment solution and global reach, with UnionPay’s powerful card holder base to allow countless more shoppers to better use their existing credit,” commented Brad Paterson, CEO of Splitit.

“The partnership is another significant milestone in Splitit’s Asia Pacific expansion strategy to boost consumer adoption and merchant acceptance. This increased relevance to more cardholders and merchants will, in turn, accelerate our merchant sales volume,” he concluded.

The economic materiality of the agreement with UnionPay International is unknown due to the contingent nature of results that may be generated. At this point in time, Splitit considers the UnionPay partnership is unlikely to yield a short-term economic benefit for Splitit, however, Splitit considers that the UnionPay partnership supports Splitit’s strategic growth plans.

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Source: https://australianfintech.com.au/splitit-partners-with-unionpay-the-worlds-largest-card-network-of-9-billion-cardholders/

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Flybuys and Klarna take the points game to the next level

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Australia’s most popular rewards program, Flybuys, and global shopping app, Klarna, today announced a new upcoming partnership set to launch in May – allowing members of both to earn more reward points and elevate their shopping game.

The Flybuys-Klarna partnership will offer members of both even greater flexibility and accelerate their ability to collect rewards.

Flybuys members can now use the Klarna app online and in-store across thousands of brands and start collecting Klarna rewards club vibes that can be converted to Flybuys points. For each $1 repaid on purchases, Klarna rewards club and Flybuys members can collect 1 vibe that can be converted to 3 Flybuys points, once enough vibes are collected.

To celebrate the partnership and receive 1,500 Flybuys bonus points, Flybuys members need to download the Klarna phone app, join the Klarna rewards club, make their first payment, then link their Flybuys account through the Klarna app.

John Merakovsky, Chief Executive Officer, Flybuys, said, “This partnership with Klarna opens up new opportunities for our members to collect points, and even more ways to be savvy with their shopping and be rewarded for it. We’re incredibly proud to welcome Klarna into the fold as our first buy now, pay later partner.”

The Klarna shopping app, which launched in Australia in January 2020, enables customers to shop and pay in 4 instalments at any participating retailer, both in store and online. Users can browse top brands, create curated wish lists, receive price drop notifications, and have access to shopping inspiration, exclusive deals and discounts from global and local Australian retailers, all from one app.

Fran Ereira, General Manager for ANZ, Klarna, said, “This is a revolutionary partnership bringing together the world’s fastest growing shopping app with Australia’s most popular loyalty program. Our partnership has been proudly designed for modern consumers. Shoppers want more flexibility in payment options so they can get what they want now, but they also want to be rewarded for taking this option. Klarna’s partnership with Flybuys rewards both our customers by tripling their points collection and rewards potential.”

Over the past year there have been significant changes in how Australians shop. Klarna has been able to respond to changing consumer behaviour over the past 12 months and offer consumers a full shopping experience from wish lists, price drop notifications and the recently launched Klarna rewards club.

Meanwhile Flybuys has continued to diversify and expand on how members can collect points on things they’re already buying, at places they’re already shopping at. Flybuys members can collect points to treat themselves with products from the Rewards Store, great travel deals, or savings towards their shopping.

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Source: https://australianfintech.com.au/flybuys-and-klarna-take-the-points-game-to-the-next-level/

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