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Latin America is set to reach 439.0 million mobile phone users in 2014, a 4.1% year-over-year improvement, eMarketer estimates. Fully 193.5 million of these users, or 44.1% of the total, will log on to the internet via their phones—feature phones and smartphones included—this year, representing a 24.2% improvement over 2013.
Against that backdrop, polling conducted by electronic security firm Easy Solutions in May and June 2014 found that a growing number of internet users in Latin America are choosing to conduct banking transactions and payments via mobile devices. While just 15% of that group used mobile banking in 2012, the figure soared in the ensuing years to reach 50% in 2014. All the while, bank branch and ATM usage saw declines among respondents to the annual survey: Just 19% and 18% cited those channels, respectively, this year. Since 2010, about nine in 10 internet users have consistently cited desktops and laptops as channels for conducting banking transactions and payments.
Naturally, uptake varies widely within the region as well. So, while the study found that 59% of internet users polled in the smallish markets of the Central America and Caribbean area (Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama) used mobile to conduct banking transactions and payments, that rate was a mere 36% in Brazil—the largest mobile internet market in Latin America in absolute terms, eMarketer estimates.
When asked about their preferred device to conduct digital monetary transactions, Easy Solutions respondents appeared to signal different levels of trust for financial institutions on one hand and everyone else on the other. Fully 33% of respondents said a mobile phone or tablet was their preferred device to conduct digital banking transactions—excluding other general payments—compared with 61% who cited a desktop or laptop in that context. But when asked about the entire transactional spectrum, only 14% of consumers polled said they favored mobile devices, while 74% mentioned desktops and laptops.
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