The use of mobile devices to access banking services is transforming the financial industry in Latin America. The opportunity, on the one hand, to reach millions of people through the technology and on the other, to add greater value to the operations of customers who own a smartphone have been driving mobile financial services in the region.
The potential is enormous: while 300 million people in Latin America have a bank account, there are over 720 million mobile lines, with about 340 million unique subscribers. The possibility of closing that gap in the coming years represents a huge opportunity not only for banks but also for mobile operators, credit card providers and retailers.
On the positive side, some of the obstacles that have slowed development of mobile banking and mobile money in the region are starting to be overcome. One example is the regulatory framework. Gradually, regulatory bodies in the region are moving away from focusing just on the traditional financial industry and recognizing the role non-bank providers of mobile money can play in promoting financial inclusion.
Then there is the growth in the region of smartphone connections, which improve user experience and mean greater options for the development of mobile financial services. However, there is still a high degree of mistrust regarding the security of these types of services.
This report describes the current state of mobile banking in Latin America and the factors attracting greater participation of banks and mobile operators in the business. We also analyze the main barriers that have inhibited faster development of banking and mobile money, and how some of these are beginning to disappear. Finally, we identify the risks that still exist regarding security and the progress that has been achieved in recent years.
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