A Decision Tree for Digital Payment Services: The Case of Mexico

Ivonne Acevedo
Miguel Székely
July 06, 2021

This paper explores the reasons why digital payment services in Mexico are used to a much lower extent than would be expected considering the country’s level of development and the authorities’ efforts to expand these types of services during the past two decades. The paper applies the analytical framework proposed by Claessens and Rojas-Suarez (2020), which consists of identifying the binding constraints preventing an increase in the usage of digital payment services, among a set of alternative explanations. The methodology starts by evaluating the price and usage of digital payment services to discover whether constraints may be on the supply side, the demand side, or both. The main findings suggest that the crucial binding constraints on the expansion of digital payment services in Mexico are mainly on the supply side of the decision tree. Indeed, we identify the regulatory framework seems to be a binding constraint, since it creates an unlevel playing field among the providers of digital payment services. Current regulation could also be a constraint on increasing the provision of digital financial infrastructure, particularly for expanding cash-in and cash-out access points in rural areas. Thus, relaxing the regulatory constraint could enable the expansion of digital payment services. In addition, there is evidence suggesting that a coordination failure, reflected in a strong preference for transacting in cash, might be a binding constraint in the country. Perceived low or nonexistent benefits from using digital payment services could be the source of the coordination failure, since it prevents the formation of a critical mass of users, which in turn discourages suppliers from offering these services.

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