Mobile Phone Payments Spread to Mexico

Mobile Payments

Mexicans will soon be able to pay for small purchases such as restaurant meals and taxi rides using their mobile telephones, the country’s banks said on Monday.

Telephone operators Telefonica and Iusacell are teaming up with big banks such as Citigroup and BBVA to launch the service, marketed at first toward technology savvy teenagers and expected to debut over the next few months.

Mobile phone users will be able to have their bank link their savings account to their telephone so they can make payments to participating stores, restaurants and taxis by sending a text message, Roberto Rodriguez, in charge of the service, said at a news conference.

Using phones to buy items such as train tickets or products in vending machines is commonplace in Japan.

Similar technologies have also taken root in Europe and Africa, with Vodafone, among others, pushing the technology.

The trend has yet to catch on in the United States, however. While Web-based e-commerce players like eBay and Amazon have partnerships with mobile carriers to provide wireless access to their services, there’s thus far been little traction for mobile payments through phones.

Not all of Mexico’s mobile stakeholders are sold on the technology, either. Most big banks are participating in the service, but Latin American mobile giant America Movil’s Telcel, which accounts for more than two-thirds of Mexico’s mobile telephones, has yet to sign up.

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