Latin America is becoming a must-have market for mobile payments, replete with fast growing m-commerce adoption and card network investment.

Powa is joining the fray, hoping its PowaPOS' operating system-agnostic model and well-known distribution partner Ingram Micro will give it a heavy bat right at the start.

"Ingram is a large distributor of tablets in Brazil and across Latin America," said Paul Rasori, an executive vice president for Powa, who said that familiarity will help Powa quickly establish relationships with merchants and other payment stakeholders in Latin American markets.

Powa also has a track record with Ingram, having partnered with the distributor in Asia and North America.

The companies are trying to cover as many bases as they can in Latin America. Ingram Micro's offers devices from manufacturers such as Acer, Apple, Cisco, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft and Samsung. Powa's point of sale platform is designed to support tablets that run on iOS, Android and Windows. The offering also includes a thermal printer, scanner, tablet mount, cash drawer and support for NFC-enabled PIN pads.

"Our approach is to lump and include all of these services, technology and operating system support into a single platform," said Rasori, hoping Powa's "one stop" pitch and Ingram Micro's brand can woo local players in each of the countries the partners target. "We want to have a single [software development kit] for everything related to the point of sale, instead of one for each function from a number of different vendors."

The flexibility appeals to Ingram Micro, which also distributes technology for other mobile payment companies such as iZettle.

"Retailers are looking for a point of sale system that can fit into the systems they may already be using, as well as a system that can be updated quickly in the future," said Alfred Navarro, regional director for Ingram Micro's digital currency point of sale business.

The ability to update payments technology without replacing payment systems could help set Powa apart, said Phil Philliou, president and CEO of TruBeacon. Philliou has done extensive payments business in Latin America.

"We are seeing demand from retailers in Brazil, Columbia and Mexico for cost-effective point of sale systems that are 'future proof,' meaning that they are designed to be updated for advancements in mobile, loyalty, rewards, systems management and payment types," Philliou said.

There's little margin for error in Latin America, since there's already a swarm of payment technology providers in the market.

YellowPepper is working with Citigroup, which has a large presence in the region, to push a mobile payment system that relies on QR codes to execute payments. Other players include Brazilian mobile app marketplace developer Bemobi, which is working with local carriers to handle payments from consumers who don't use or have access to credit cards.

The region is additionally attracting virtual currency exchanges and mainstream payment processors. Apple is also expected to expand Apple Pay to Latin America soon.

"Success in a thin-margin business requires rapid scale and wide distribution," said Mary Monahan, executive vice president and research director of Mobile for Javelin Strategy & Research. "Scale requires mobile point of sale vendors to locate and partner with other outlets that can extend their reach." 

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