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TheStreet Open House

Independent Designers Across Latin America And The Caribbean Embrace The “Cashless” Society

Stocks in this article: MA

As part of its vision of moving toward a world beyond cash, MasterCard presents three new merchant testimonial stories from its global campaign, Cashless Pioneers, highlighting the impact that electronic payments have had on the lives of small business owners and their businesses. Independent designers in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) represent a growing number of micro-businesses in developing economies that are adapting to meet the increased customer demand for more efficient and convenient ways to buy and pay for things. These business owners are now offering “cashless” payment options including mobile, internet and cards.

“Consumers are used to the ease and speed of mobile, internet and card payments and as a result, they are finding the use of cash to be inconvenient, unsafe and slow,” said Ricardo Ibarria, Head of Acceptance for MasterCard LAC. “Around the world, new technologies are democratizing access to electronic payments for buyers and sellers; thus as we continue moving toward a more ‘cashless’ society, those service providers who do not keep up will in fact be left behind.” Ibarria also highlighted that when service providers accept card payments, consumers are inclined to spend more. By accepting card payments these microbusiness owners can:

  • Increase sales and the customers they serve;
  • Increase security for their customers as they do not need to carry as much cash on them, reducing the chances of theft;
  • Improve customer experience offering them a variety of payment options.

The following stories reflect how three “Cashless Pioneers”, in this case microbusiness owners from Colombia, Brazil and Costa Rica, have leapfrogged their competition and strengthened their business by accepting cashless payments:

  • Caterina Fuscaldo, a local designer from Costa Rica, founded her own business by selling glass design items, which she creates from the convenience of her own home. Caterina decided to open her own business in order to be able to spend more time with her family. She showcases her work at numerous fairs in Costa Rica, where many of her clients are tourists and do not carry cash and the need to accept cards became increasingly important to grow her business. Today 70% of her sales are paid with credit cards.
  • Ana Leo is an independent bikini designer from Sao Paulo who works from her home and decided to start accepting payments through her mobile phone. With the advent of mobile, on-the-go acceptance devices are turning every mobile phone user into a microbusiness owner. Accepting mobile payments has allowed Ana the convenience of not even having to carry a Point of Sale, as all she needs in order to process a transaction is to have cell phone service. Ana has also noticed that when making electronic payments, her customers usually end up spending more.
  • Carlos Mirque is a small business owner from Colombia who designs and sells accessories made with “molas”, a type of textile art made by the Kuna tribe, in the Usaquen flea market in Bogota. When Carlos first started selling “mola” fashion at the craft fair, he only accepted cash, and was forced to turn down numerous sales. As a result, he chose to request a Point of Sale terminal to begin accepting electronic payments. When he started to accept credit and debit cards, he was able to increase his sales by 50%. Now, his “molas” stand is not only recognized for its high-quality handmade shoes, bags and accessories, but also for being a pioneer in electronic payment solutions at the craft fair.

Cashless Pioneers is a video series by MasterCard that seeks to highlight stories of merchants around the world who are strengthening their business and providing better services through the acceptance of electronic payments. The program was launched as a global campaign in 2011, and so far, close to 10 stories have been released in LAC, which are mostly focused on stories of microbusinesses.

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