QUITO – Ecuador’s central bank and Movistar, the local subsidiary of Spanish telecom giant Telefonica, have signed a mobile e-money agreement that will enable the wireless operator’s customers to pay for goods and services via their cellphones.
The central bank’s chief, Mateo Villalba, and the head of Telefonica-Movistar in Ecuador, Jose Manuel Casas, inked the deal.
This mobile payment system, which is being promoted by the central bank and is still in the development phase, is expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2014, Villalba told reporters.
Villalba said this e-commerce tool will enable Ecuadorians to pay for goods at retail outlets and perform other transactions with money they hold in virtual accounts at the central bank.
The goal is to “facilitate economic transactions for all Ecuadorians,” particularly “those who don’t have an account in the financial system and deserve to be included in the network of payment circuits,” he said.
State-owned CNT’s mobile phone division has already signed on to this initiative, and Ecuador’s central bank also wants to bring on board the country’s No. 1 mobile operator, America Movil’s Claro.
The central bank is working to ensure the mobile payment system will be available to customers at the lowest price possible, Villalba said, noting that, unlike other countries where e-money is a private business, it is a not-for-profit public initiative in Ecuador.
“It’s a public service and the central bank will assume part of those costs so the fee is the lowest possible for the public,” he added.
Casas said Telefonica-Movistar was “proud” to be a part of this initiative aimed at improving citizens’ lives.
“Digitization of the basic activities of daily life,” such as spending money, is an “excellent opportunity to expand access to banking to the least privileged classes” in Ecuador, the executive said.
Movistar’s participation in the central bank’s initiative will provide access to this mobile e-money service to its more than 5 million customers in Ecuador, Casas said.