Jun. 25, 2018

Luz Adriana Ramírez


Luz Adriana Ramírez

General Director, Visa México

“In an analysis of 100 cities, Mexico City was classified as a “Cash Centric City.”


Luz Adriana Ramírez Chávez was appointed as the General Director of Visa México in August 2013. Before working for Visa, she was the Latin America’s president at Karum, a US based company. For 17 years, she worked in diverse business areas for General Electric and lead the GE’s Latin American Women Network. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Universidad La Salle and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León.

How did Visa México perform on the global market last year?

The company recorded double-digit growth across the world, and Mexico's numbers were even higher than the global average. Mexico has been growing well in terms of consumption, but there is still room for improvement. The Mexican market continues to be heavily dependent on cash; the penetration of electronic payments for consumption expenditures per person remains as an opportunity as it is around 15%. Although the growth is satisfying, we are working hard on cash conversion through our transformational initiatives aimed at penetrating digital and electronic payments.

Why is digital penetration low, and what are the main obstacles?

A recent study conducted by Visa to Roubini ThoughtLab found that by transitioning to digital payments, businesses stand to experience greater efficiency, lower costs, reduced crime, more seamless customer experience, and greater sales. In an analysis of 100 cities, Mexico City was classified as a “Cash Centric City.” The potential net benefits that Mexico City will experience by moving to an “achievable level of cashlessness” will sum more than USD$ 12,000 million if the entire population reached digital payment usage equal to the top 10% of users in the today. The industry as a whole has multiple challenges to overcome. In addition, education and behavior play a vital role in ensuring a friction-less experience for the public. The market needs to match the number of terminals person with the region; Mexico has approximately nine terminals per 1,000 people as compared to more than 10in Latin America and around 27 in Brazil. The introduction of payment facilitators few years ago helped trigger growth in 2017, and new players in the ecosystem are injecting solutions such as fixed terminals for easier accessibility. Currently, Visa is working on enabling contactless payments, working with merchants on the implementation of contactless terminals and collaborating with banks to issue contactless cards.

Is Visa pushing for a direct leapfrog to contactless payments where there is no infrastructure yet?

Mexico provides an opportunity to maintain both types of payments. Contactless cards are an extremely convenient method to reduce long queues and for cash conversion for low-ticket transactions, a category that cash dominates. On the other hand, we are working on building a future for the Internet of Things to have acceptance at the point-of-sale (POS).

What impact will new payments technologies have on fraud?

Security is one of the company's main pillars and Visa has been the industry leader in ensuring security with debit and credit cards, and adding security layers in e-commerce. For example, tokenization, does not show the complete account number, allows us to create a device-specific or merchant-specific token. Another example is 3D secure, which is a dynamic form of fraud detection. In present times, the amount of information available on customers enables us to protect them better. The company is fast moving into Visa ID Intelligence: a technology that uses biometrics and other authentication methods to conduct easy and secure transactions.

How do you see the public in Mexico receiving wearable technology?

New payment technologies in Mexico equally excitethe company and the Mexican public. For example, the introduction of Samsung Pay was well-received here. The Mexican youth is eager to use wearable technology for payments, as being done around the world. According to a study, there will be 20 billion connected devices by 2020 that could become a point of sale. Besides the technology, we are trying to modify consumer's behavior. Contactless payments are the catalyst for the next generation of payments, and the gateway for the countless possibilities in the world Internet of Things.

What is your assessment of the recently passed fintech law and what opportunities does it represent for Visa?

Fintechs will have a tremendous effect on the whole ecosystem. While fintechs are more agile in terms of innovation, we have opened our platform; by opening our Visa Development Platform two years ago, players in the ecosystem could use application programming interfaces (APIs) to get the best of Visa. We have created Visa's Everywhere Initiative, where we bring hundreds of fintech companies to participate in creating projects to help us build the future of commerce.. At the same time, the company is working with banks and merchants on co-creating solutions with the sole priority toput the consumer in the center of everything.

What does the opening of VisaNet represent for final consumers?

VisaNet, our advanced global processing network, processes 65,000 transactions per second. In the past, it was associated with physical work, but we are scaling up our capabilities in the digital world. We opened the VisaNet capabilities for any interested party to access it through APIs. In parallel to that, we have created several different innovation centers across the world to harness the collective strength of the ecosystems into creating human-centered design technology. VisaNet provides an openness that allows for faster speeds and additional convenience; we are continuously searching for the consumers' demands and needs in a 360 integrated way.

How are you contributing to enhance financial inclusion?

Financial inclusion is one of our key strategic pillars in Mexico. A significant percentage of the population here does not own a bank account and we are investing heavily to fill that vacuum. Our goal is to serve all the present market segments with tailored products. For example, Visa partnered with Oxxo to develop Saldazo, which is an entry-level debit card that can be used at Oxxo convenience stores. Another such project, Banco Compartamos, aims to empower women in rural areas by replacing a loan's cash payments with a debit card. We have also developed technological solutions for small merchants. For example, Bimbo helps mom-and-pop stores contend with bigger competitors by accepting credit cards and providing other financial services like top-ups. Additionally, we recently announced Visa Foundation, which is committed to helping low-income, financially underserved micro and small enterprises around the world to thrive and prosper.

How are you working together with Ministry of Tourism to foster the attractiveness of the country?

We have a multifaceted agreement in place with various goals. One aims is to increase acceptance rates for cards at tourist destinations. The Ministry of Tourism is collaborating with Visa Mexico to bring digital payments to the Pueblos Mágicos: a select group of Mexican villages whose cultural and natural treasures have been deemed magical. Another important aspect of the agreement is related to information; Visa shares data, analytics and insights on the type of tourism coming into Mexico as well as Mexicans traveling abroad. Through this information, the country can witness growth on the back of richer data and dynamic promotions.