Latin America’s utility and mobile phone sectors present massive
growth potential for reloadable prepaid cards according to US-based
prepaid specialist NovoPayment in a new study covering 15 countries
in the region.

Indicative of the opportunity, NovoPayment forecasts that by 2015
these two sectors of Latin America’s prepaid market could
potentially be worth upwards of $160 billion annually.

For the study NovoPayment took into consideration factors such as
size of the labour force, poverty rates, wages, banking and other
metrics based on its own experience in the region, where some
200,000 consumers are enrolled in its mobile phone and utility
prepaid programmes.

The programmes enable payment for services on-demand or via
scheduled debits to Maestro-, MasterCard- or Visa-branded prepaid

Providing background to NovoPayment’s optimistic forecast, the
company’s CEO Anabel Perez said that its research revealed that
unbanked consumers spend on average 10 hours per month queuing to
pay bills for utility services, a time wasting problem that prepaid
cards would solve.

NovoPayment’s research also revealed that between 80 percent to 90
percent of mobile phone network customers in Latin America are
already on prepaid plans. However, NovoPayment noted that these
consumers currently rely heavily on single-use, scratch

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Headquartered in Miami, Florida, NovoPayment has operations in
Venezuela, Peru, Mexico and Colombia where its prepaid programmes
includes more than 960,000 active MasterCard Maestro and Visa
Electron cards.

This total represents almost a third more active cards than were on
the programmes a year ago.

Transaction volumes reported by NovoPayment have also increased
notably over the past year rising by 36 percent to 30 million
annually while the value of transactions has increased by an even
more substantial 88 percent to $620 million.

NovoPayments can lay claim to a number of firsts in Latin America,
including the first prepaid general purpose card not requiring a
bank account and the first mobile-to-mobile funds transfer platform
using short message service.