Banks without a mobile strategy in 2009 run the risk of going offside according to Latinia

Mexico City, Wednesday, July 16.- “The rules of the game will start to change significantly starting in 2009”. The clout of cell phones in Mexican society obligate financial institutions to include them in their multi-channel strategies any way you look at it”, according to Francesc Perez, Latinia’s business director. He is leading the Spanish software company’s expansion in that region. Banking and cellular telephony are news these days because of the project’s startup. This was encouraged by the Trust to Extend Access Benefits to Electronic Payment Media Infrastructure (Fimpe in Spanish), and also because of the iPhone’s arrival in Mexico.
“Banks that do not have mobile services in 2009 will be left out of the competition, especially because of the growth of cellular telephony. This includes third generation (3G) mobile devices such as the iPhone. However, here we will need solid support from operators as we will have an extreme dependence on available broadband, Perez stated.

Latinia is a technology company with offices in Barcelona (HQ) and Madrid. It develops integration software (called middleware) to link financial services with mobile telephony with banks such as BBVA and Santander, among others.

“We hope that Mexico will become the cutting edge of our strategy in the region. We believe that it is a market with great potential”, stated Francesc Pérez, Latinia’s Business Director, on a visit to Mexico.

“The use of cell phones as a channel for providing financial services will help Mexican institutions to incorporate more inhabitants into the financial system”, continued Pérez. “This is because more than 74 million Mexicans could have access to SMS (text messaging) banking services as they already have a cell phone; whereas 30 million have a bank account.”

“A mobile banking strategy enables the financial institution to assign resources to more commercial processes and not merely service or teller window processes and customers are up to date 24 hours per day, from anywhere, and without having to go to the bank”, Perez assured us. He added: “Remote banking is key for focusing customers’ commercial procedures at the offices.”

“Latin America is annually doubling its SMS data traffic with penetration shares that reach an average of 70%, and which still have a long way to go, but above all, with spectacular SMS messaging use per person and per day. The mobile channel has already crossed the threshold of the exotic to become an excellent communication and business tools for companies, especially banks. They see it as a very efficient way of contacting their customers”, noted Perez during his participation. Latinia conducted a study of the Mexican market between June 2007 and June 2008 in which it states that “the scarce presence of text messaging services is surprising (considering the growth of this communication tool among the population), as well as the highlighted -in comparison- presence (almost 50%) of navigation services (WAP) for which good bandwidth is essential to facilitate satisfactory user experiences”.

The study adds that “the feeling is that the impulse that could be given to mobile banking by the social phenomenon represented by such intensive use of messaging is not being capitalized on. Companies continue to think more about technology/product than the users themselves”. “The role of carriers as revitalizers and making access easier -universal, bandwidth- is critical for the development of mobile banking in Mexico. However, banks have to be the ones to make the first move, the study explains. “Mobile banking in Mexico will evolve quickly, it states, just as technologies and services will become homogenized (very spread out now). The expansion of this selection will multiply.” “European models and guidelines are repeating themselves. This will make it possible for Mexican banks to inherit the best experience in half the time and with half of the mistakes made on the most early adopter markets. However, banks are not very promoted and visible to mobile financial services (MFS), which are sold very little.” “If, as a bank, you do not capitalize on cell phones to communicate with your customers when more than half of them has one and uses SMS messaging intensively to communicate with friends and relatives, you run the risk of remaining on technological and business offside”, explained Francesc Perez.

“The multichannel strategy now does not only provide for Internet banking. A customer’s channels or contact points with an institution do not compete with each other. As a bank, you do not have to choose the best option to contact your customers. You simply have to offer them all the options and let them be the ones to choose,” he added.

Latinia is a Spanish software company specializing in SMS banking middleware products that began its expansion in the Latin American region last June. It began its activity in Mexico and with the markets in Chile, Colombia and Argentina as objectives for 2009. Latinia already has major clients in the region such as Banco Santander in Puerto Rico (BSPR), or Telefónica Internacional (TISA), to whom it supplies the mobile infrastructure for operating their messaging services.

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