NovoPayment, Inc., Latin America’s leading prepaid card service provider and program manager, today announced its regional forecast for prepaid general-purpose reloadable mobile and utilities cards in which it estimated a potential market of nearly US$160 billion annually by 2015.
The forecast is part of a larger regional study for prepaid cards covering 15 countries –Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Mexico and Venezuela – that measured factors such as size of labor force, poverty rates, wages, banking and other metrics based on the company’s experience in the field.
Today, the company’s prepaid programs allow more than 200,000 mobile and utility consumers to pay for services on-demand or via scheduled debits to their Maestro, MasterCard or Visa branded prepaid cards.
“Unbanked consumers spend on average 10 hours per month standing in line to pay bills for services simply because they do not have a traditional bank account or credit history,” said Anabel Perez, NovoPayment’s co-founder and CEO. “Prepaid general-purpose cards are a value proposition for mobile and utilities service providers and their customers because they create loyalty, improve margins and connect the region’s largest consumer group – which make up the base of the pyramid – to a modern payments and services infrastructure.”
According to NovoPayment, the overwhelming majority of mobile customers in Latin America – between 80% and 90% — are already on prepaid plans, representing a huge business opportunity for service providers and a value-added proposition for users who currently rely heavily on single-use, scratch-off cards.
Linking prepaid general-purpose reloadable cards to mobile and utility services provide low- to middle-income consumers the ability to buy airtime and pay electricity bills, among others, via text messaging, Internet, phone or via scheduled debit, without an underlying bank account. The cards have the appearance and function of debit cards, except that they must be reloaded via a retail network.