Latin America is attractive for companies providing alternative means of payment given that governments here are working hard to become cash free. For governments, it can be an advantage to whitewash the economy, make it more formal, and collect the corresponding taxes. Brazil is extremely developed; the penetration of plastic over cash is almost 50%, while the most backward country is Mexico, where 90% of transactions are in cash. In the countries that were successful, the government is committed to legislating to facilitate the use of plastic. The most successful countries offer a VAT rebate on the statement. Users receive 2-3% of everything they spend on the card. There are still activities, including in governments, where there are cash payments instead of bank payments. Furthermore, it is necessary to ensure there are terminals at the points of sale. It is also necessary for older people to receive financial education. Countries such as South Korea, Sweden, and others have done extremely well. In Sweden, many places no longer accept cash. This is progressing slowly, though we need to accelerate that process. The great stimulus of the financial services of opportunity in this region compared to other places with mature services is the extensive presence of cash. In Mexico, about 2,000 municipalities do not have a banking network. In our countries, bank branches are still being opened, while in other countries branches are being closed down because people no longer go to the bank.
Aug. 8, 2019
Jose Maria Zas
President & CEO , Global Consumer Card, Latin America, American Express
Luz Adriana Ramírez
GeneraL Director, Visa México
Mexico relies heavily on cash payments. Digital penetration is low at around 15%. Visa México sees cash reduction as a great opportunity in Mexico. The new administration is looking to form a cashless economy, and that is a big opportunity for us because that is exactly what Visa's focus has been for a while. There are tremendous advantages to digitizing the economy, given that using cash has a big cost in terms of creating and managing it. We have developed several strategies within our business model that are aimed at shifting the population and the country to a much more cashless economy or at least increase the penetration of digital payments when it comes to personal consumer expenditure. For example, in Mexico we are focused on contactless initiatives, using what we call “Tap to Pay.” Contactless is a strong payment methodology worldwide, can help facilitate the transition from cash to digital payments, and serves as a catalyst for the next generation of payments. It is simple and easy to use and provides a positive consumer experience and the same security as our other payment methods; for example, the same chip enabled security technology. Contactless works for everything, but it is ideal for everyday spending categories, such as supermarkets where it increases checkout speeds, which benefits both retailers and consumers. It is fast, simple, and secure.
President, MasterCard Mexico and Central America
Our objective at MasterCard is to expand market potential and digital penetration in Mexico. To build a world beyond cash, we need to open the doors and create the necessary conditions to build an ecosystem that allows new competitors. As a result, in December 2018, the central bank authorized Mastercard to operate as a global clearing house in Mexico to process domestic transactions to support the transformation of the industry, by providing greater efficiency and benefits including guaranteed competitiveness with the participation of new players, interoperability by connecting a local network with a global one, and promoting innovation and the integration of cutting-edge technologies to provide better service to customers. On top of that, we will adopt international standards to bring all the safety and security that transactions require to increase the adoption of digital payments in Mexico. The future of the payments industry relies on three key concepts: frictionless, security, and user experience. As a company and player, we need to simplify their experience by building and expanding the ecosystem with a main purpose in mind: Achieve a world without cash by providing the best experience to customers, with secure and frictionless payments. There is a huge space to continue growing, and the great news is that all stakeholders are on board with us because what is certain is that the future is digital.