Project Year



Latin America and the Caribbean


Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru

Project Description

The objective of this project is to identify constraints to the growth of mobile-based financial services for the poor in Latin America, and thus contribute to the body of knowledge required to design effective incentive mechanisms for promoting investments and service deployment, as well as adoption by potential beneficiaries. The primary research questions to be addressed are: What are the institutional and contextual factors that constrain the deployment and scaling of mobile-based financial services for the poor in Latin America? What are the interactions between demand for financial services and mobile telephony usage patterns among poor households that affect the growth of mobile banking? How can existing conditional cash transfer programs (CCTPs) be articulated with mobile telephony platforms to achieve greater efficiency in program delivery and at the same time extend the range and coverage of financial services for the poor? The project combines research activities on the supply and regulatory factors that affect the development of the mobile banking ecosystem in Latin America. Research will consist of, first, the creation of a database of existing mobile-based financial inclusion initiatives in the region (to be mapped and characterized in terms of services, business model, partnership structure, coverage, adoption, and overall results) and, second, the analysis of the regulatory environment in target countries (Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico and Peru) to identify regulatory bottlenecks for unlocking investments in mobile solutions for the unbanked.


Roxana Barrantes Cáceres, Judith Mariscal

About the Researcher(s)

Roxana Barrantes Cáceres is an economist with a B.S. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and a PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Executive Director and Researcher, Instituto de Estudios Peruanos. Professor, Department of Economics at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Professional activities in applied microeconomics, focused on (a) regulation and privatization of infrastructure sectors; and (b) environment and natural resources. During her career, Barrantes has served as staff and member of the board of directors of the Peruvian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (OSIPTEL), consultant to the Transport Regulatory commission in Peru (OSITRAN), the National Superintendent of Sanitation (SUNASS), the Ministry of Transport and Communication, the National Ombudsman Office, and to the Inter American Development Bank. Currently, she serves in the Advisory Committee of LACEEP (Latin American and Caribbean Environmental Economics Program), and Steering Committee of DIRSI –Latin American and Caribbean research network on ICT regulation to foster inclusion by the poor into the information society. Past President of Permanent Seminar on Agricultural Research in Peru (SEPIA), Former Member of the Resolution of Environmental Disputes Court of the National Environmental Council (CONAM) and former President of the ProConectividad Committee of ProInversion. She has several recent and forthcoming publications on the use of mobile telephones among market traders in rural Peru, broadband technology, and inclusive development.

Judith Mariscal (Ph.D. LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin) is full Professor at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Economica (CIDE) in Mexico City DF, where she is Director of the Telecommunications Research Program, Telecom-CIDE. She is a member of the Steering Committee for DIRSI, a research network on ICT policy for development in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Social Witness for Transparency International, Chapter Mexico Her current research focuses on ICT regulatory and public policies and has published in leading journals such as Telecommunications PolicyLatin American Studies, and Information Technologies and International Development. She has authored two books: Unfinished Business: Telecommunications Reform in Mexico (published by Praeger Press in 2000), and Digital Poverty: Latin American and Caribbean Perspectives (published by ITDG in 2007, coauthored with Hernan Galperin).

Synopsis of Research Results

1. Link to their blog post: Banking the Poor Through Mobile Telephony: Understanding the Challenges for Expansion of Mobile-Based Financial Services in El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Peru.

2. Read results of each case study in English and Spanish, available on the DIRSI website.


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