A new era in electronic payments is dawning in Peru with this week’s launch of Modelo Perú.
The electronic and fully-interoperable platform is a shared mobile payments infrastructure between the nation’s financial institutions, telecommunications networks, government, and other stakeholders, designed with the aim to promote financial inclusion in a nation where harsh, mountainous geographical features often impede access to basic financial services for the poor, particularly in rural areas.
It represents the first attempt by any country to create a completely interoperable national mobile payments system meant to scale up financial inclusion.
Its launch, which occurred after a trial period in Lima and Cusco, is the culmination of widespread collaboration spearheaded by the Peruvian Bank Association (ASBANC), and included the efforts of the Superintendencia de Banca, Seguros y AFPs (SBS) of Peru, long recognized for its pioneering efforts in financial inclusion as a member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), along with relevant stakeholders.
The importance of this innovation to promote greater financial inclusion cannot be understated.
Modelo Perú is a technology neutral platform. It is a tool that makes usage simple, for competitors and for users, with the purpose to bring the excluded into the formal financial system, developing the digital and e-money ecosystem, and stressing the importance of financial literacy. The platform enables users to access e-money from their mobile phones (basic or smartphones) to transfer funds from phone-to-phone, initiate payments (e.g. wages, utilities, and government payments), make airtime purchases, and access a variety of other financial services.
An important lesson to learn from the efforts surrounding the creation of Modelo Perú is that regulation itself is not sufficient to create a market. There are other concerns to be accounted for in order to properly drive a digital and an e-money ecosystem.
Peruvian policymakers were aware of this, and, as advanced learners, started a dialogue with stakeholders in the private sector to assess why the Peru’s e-money law no. 29985, which was approved in 2013, did not have the expected outcome of promoting significantly greater financial inclusion in the country with only the approval of the law and its regulations.
During these discussions, ASBANC began to focus on retail payments, and decided to take a leading role, along with policymakers, particularly SBS Peru, to find solutions and help deliver access to payment and transactional services that would reach the low-income segments of the Peruvian population.
This puzzle was not easy to piece together.
Actors from the private and public sector were cognizant that the main constraint was the lack of interoperability, that is, the lack of road, where all suppliers would be able to settle and make payments. Once the absence of a common platform able to be used by an e-money provider was identified, the public and private sector coordinated and embarked upon a gargantuan effort to remedy this bottleneck.
Eventually ASBANC incorporated a new company, called Peruvian Digital Payments, as the Modelo Perú platform provider. The goal of Modelo Perú is to reach 2 million active users by 2020, and to facilitate the creation of mobile wallets offered by the e-money issuers, supervised by SBS Peru.
Furthermore, telecommunications companies can offer these services using licensed e-money issuers. So far, this includes nine companies, including banks and e-money issuers.
For a region like Latin America, with a significant portion of its population possessing limited access to mobile financial services, this is the beginning of how mobile phones are used to provide a cheap, safe and easy method to access finance.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
María del Rosario Moreno Sanchez is a Senior Policy Manager at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. Follow her on Twitter at @marayaemese. Chris Hughes is the Communications Manager at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. Follow him on Twitter at @chughes222.
Categories: Digital Financial Services