Brillembourg: Market Ready for Wireless Payment in 12mths

Friday, March 23, 2001

The Latin American mobile Internet market will be ready for wireless payment services in the next 12 months, predicted David Brillembourg, business development VP of Starmedia Mobile.

Starmedia Mobile's core business consists in providing the region's wireless carriers with portal infrastructure. At the moment, carriers are mainly interested in entertainment, communications and community features, such as ring tones, email, chat and messaging services, Brillembourg told

However, as more advanced phones enter the market, mobile payment will become more popular, he said. Mobile payment can be made by means of credit cards and withdrawals from current bank accounts, by debiting the amount from prepaid calling cards, or by adding the amount to the users phone bill.

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Brillembourg also anticipated the demand of more location-based content, and the entry of wireless technologies into companies' ERP and CRM systems.

Starmedia Mobile is the wireless division of New York-based Starmedia Networks (NASDAQ: STRM), created in September 1999 though the acquisition of Miami-based Pagecell, of which Brillembourg was CEO.

The division maintains its headquarters in Miami, and also has a presence in Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Argentina.

It currently has 21 carrier agreements, Brillembourg said, including Telemig, ATL and Telet in Brazil, Movilnet in Venezuela, Bellsouth in Chile, Unifon in Argentina and Comcel in Colombia.

The subsidiary derives revenues mainly from technology licensing and service fees, but also from revenue sharing agreements on co-branded initiatives. During 2000, Starmedia Mobile accounted for some 10% of Starmedia's total US$$61mn revenues, a figure expected to increase to 15% this year.

The company is actively seeking alliances with technology and service providers throughout the region, Brillembourg said. "We se ourselves as an enabler. We don't build what we don't have to build. If the technology does not apply, we will build it, if it does, we will partner with the companies that provide that technology," he concluded.