Mexico’s new Transfer: Money via text message

Last updated: 23 December 2015

We’ve seen smartphone apps and mobile banking revolutionise the lives of office workers, city slickers, business moguls and IT gurus across the globe this year, but what about the rest of society? Launching in Mexico, Transfer is a ubiquitous new mobile money platform offered by the joint venture between América Móvil/Telcel, Citibank´s Mexican unit Banamex and Banco Inbursa.

The service allows customers to use mobile phones to set up bank accounts, transfer money, withdraw cash from ATM’s, purchase airtime and pay at merchant points of sale.

So what will it mean for Mexico? Transfer is designed to remove the barriers to financial inclusion, and gradually bring the advantages of financial services to the entire population of Mexico to help them lead healthier financial lifestyles. With the introduction of Mobile Money, customers can enjoy all the benefits of electronic currency in a truly digital world. We think the ability to store money securely in a virtual bank account and be in control of it from a mobile phone is something everyone, worldwide, should be party to.

Gemalto’s involvement with Transfer not only connects the three partners, it ensures the increased security and safety that comes with using all electronic money. The ability to make electronic transactions instead of cash transactions, (e.g. domestic money transfer, in-store payments, 24/7 airtime top-up) means that all Transfer customers will no longer have to risk carrying anonymous cash through unsafe areas.

In Mexico, only 30 percent of the population is registered with a bank. For the remaining 70 percent day-to-day life is dominated by cash. This means that approximately 80 million people have no access to formal financial services – because, until now, banks have not served the bottom of the pyramid. Although the unbanked earn, save, transfer and borrow money, these types of transactions take place outside the formal regulated financial environment.

Using Transfer, simplified bank accounts are associated with a customer’s mobile number and the account can be loaded through direct cash deposits or money transfers. Without getting too technical, mobile-triggered transactions are based on text (SMS) messages authenticated over a protected (USSD) channel with a personal identification code.

Once registered, customers can perform their first ‘cash in’ transaction to load funds into their Stored Value Account, transfer money from their bank account to the SVA, or receive a money transfer from someone else directly to their mobile phone.

It’s fast, simple, available 24 hours-a-day and all logged via SMS and/or email. What’s more, no information is stored on the device thanks to Gemalto’s secure data hosting. Understandably, you can see why we’re excited and we hope Latin American users will be too.