Mobile Money in Latin America is a Hidden Goldmine

Admittedly, we haven’t been actively exploring the FinTech ecosystem in Latin America until recently. And as we started doing it, we discovered an amazing world of endless opportunities for FinTech. So far, we have seen some very interesting companies operating in Brazil and Mexico and certainly looking forward to exploring the array of promising startups that are taking the financial services industry in the region to the next level.

Latin America is a particularly interesting market as there is a single FinTech segment that is growing at an outstanding pace but hasn't been leveraged yet. We are talking about the mobile money segment that accounts for just 37 mobile money providers in the whole region.

Let’s take a closer look at the companies that are fighting for financial inclusion in Latin America through mobile money.

Some mobile money services are available in a range of countries. For example, Tigo Money is available in Bolivia, El Salvador, Paraguay and Guatemala. Boom is available in Mexico and Haiti.

The following companies provide mobile money services in Latin America:

Grupo Sicom (Argentina), Tigo (Millicom, Brazil), Oi (Brazil), Vivo (Telefónica, Brazil), Claro & Bradesco (Brazil), TIM (Brazil), Olha Conta (Brazil), Entel (Colombia), VTU de Colombia SA (Colombia), DaviPlata (Colombia), BanColombia (Colombia), Claro (Colombia), MiPlata (Colombia), Orange (Colombia), Dinero Electronico (Central Bank of Ecuador, Ecuador), Tigo (Millicom, El Salvador), m-banco (El Salvador), Claro (América Móvil, Guatemala), Tigo (Millicom, Guatemala), Mobile Money Guyana Inc (GT&T, Guyana), Digicel (Haiti), Haitipay (Haiti), Boom Financial (Haiti), Tigo (Millicom, Honduras), M3 (Development Bank of Jamaica, Jamaica), CONEC Mobile Wallet (Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League, Jamaica), Boom Financial (Mexico), Transfer (Telcel, América Móvil, México), Banorte (México), eZuza (Mexico), mPeso (Nicaragua), Movil Cash (Cable & Wireless Panamá, Panamá), Tigo (Millicom, Paraguay), Envios Personal (Paraguay), Billetera Móvil (Scotiabank, Perú), Tu Dinero Móvil (Movistar (Telefonica), Perú) and Movilway (Venezuela).

If we were to compare the competitiveness, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico and Haiti would be the most "developed" ones.

Colombia and Brazil have the highest number of mobile money providers – 14% each. Mexico accounts for 11% of companies and Haiti for 8%. Perú, Paraguay, Jamaica, Guatemala and El Salvador have 5% of the companies each. All other countries have much lesser shares.

The mobile money market is not yet saturated in Latin America and is at a very early stage. However, it is growing at a rapid pace. All companies providing mobile money services have been in the industry only since 2009.

The most fruitful year for mobile money services was 2013 when 35% of the companies that are operating now were launched. After the 2013 blast, 2014 was left behind with 8% of the companies being launched that year. Th year 2015 saw some growth – 11% of mobile money services were launched last year.

Mobile money in Latin America is a hidden goldmine as out of the 480 million adults in Latin America, there are a mere 15 million registered mobile money users (3% penetration). FinTech companies looking to ride the wave in the region can continue to benefit from the massive underbanked population of smartphone users for years to come.