Brazilian bank Itaú Unibanco (NYSE: ITUB), card processor and acquirer Redecard, and mobile operator Vivo (NYSE: VIV) will be the first to use MasterCard's (NYSE: MA) new mobile payments gateway, MasterCard said in a statement.
The platform allows mobile consumers to make purchases, send and receive money, transfer funds between accounts, pay bills, deposit funds, top up mobile airtime, get cash from ATMs and check balances.
MasterCard is using technology from Smart Hub, a subsidiary of Philippine-based Smart Communications.
There are more than 4bn mobile phone users worldwide, but a much smaller number of people who have bank accounts, MasterCard said, citing the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) - an independent policy and research center housed at the World Bank - and the GSM Association. The banked population is expected to grow from 1bn to 1.7bn by 2012, according to the organizations.
As well as allowing the unbanked population access to banking services, the platform also gives MasterCard access to a large potential market.
The service empowers customers' connectivity "so they can make the most out of their mobile phones. The mobile payments market is an expanding opportunity in the local scenario and we are sure this initiative will be a success," Hugo Janeba, Vivo's executive VP of marketing and innovation, said.
Vivo has over 48mn customers and covers more than 3,400 cities nationwide.
"While in the region there are some mobile payments solutions that help unbanked mobile users transfer money or top-up prepaid accounts, these solutions have been limited in providing the breadth of payment transaction services for the underserved consumer to completely manage their finances," added Richard Hartzell, MasterCard Worldwide president for Latin America and the Caribbean.