The Telefónica Group and MasterCard International today unveiled MFS, a joint venture between the two companies that will develop mobile payment solutions in Brazil.
MFS' first product, set to launch in April 2013, will be a pre-paid account accessed via mobile phones alongside a MasterCard card, which will let consumers transfer cash to other people, make in-store purchases, top-up airtime and carry out other financial transactions.
The product will primarily focus on the payment requirements of Telefónica Vivo customers who do not have bank accounts, offering them financial inclusion. However, users who already have current accounts can also sign up for the service. Cash can be transferred onto pre-paid accounts at mobile phone refill stations, supermarkets and newspaper stands.
The product uses USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) technology and is compatible with all GSM devices, allowing real-time interaction with users. Furthermore, transactions are completely secure as none of the data provided while browsing, such as a password, is stored on the device.
Electronic payments within reach of millions in Brazil
"The new product will provide ease of use, inclusion, control and security for millions of Brazilians, backed up by the reputation and financial strength of two major companies, MasterCard and Telefónica", said Marcos Etchegoyen, CEO of MFS Serviços de Meios de Pagamento Ltda. "The pre-paid cell phone account opens doors for millions of Brazilians who own mobile phones but have never benefitted from electronic payments or current accounts", he added.
Similar services provided via partnerships between Telefónica and MasterCard are available in Argentina and Peru. Financial transactions based on USSD technology are widely used in Africa and the Philippines. Telefónica/Vivo has been using this technology since October 2011 to top-up mobile phones and attracts over 7 million accesses per month.
"Telefónica/Vivo's coverage in over 3.7 thousand Brazilian cities will be a major driver in offering mobility ay and the features of this service to large sections of the population", said Antonio Carlos Valente, CEO of the Telefónica Group in Brazil. "This product fits the company's commitment to offer solutions that improve people's lives, reducing distances and making communications faster and more digital", added Valente.
Gilberto Caldart, managing director of MasterCard Brazil and GeoSouth, said "mobile phone payments is just one of MasterCard's commitments towards efficiently driving financial inclusion and providing millions of people who currently have no access to traditional financial channels a quick, transparent and secure way of making financial transactions".