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News from Latin America

September 28, 2001 Posted: 1621 GMT

NEW YORK ( -- Tricom and Panama's Cable & Wireless will enter interconnection talks, Visa expects $16.4 billion in online purchases in Latin America this year, and Brazil's e-commerce chamber will work with IBP Institute to provide e-mail and online traffic access.

Tricom, Panama's Cable and Wireless to hold interconnection talks

The Dominican Republic's Tricom and Panama's Cable & Wireless (C&W) have five days from September 25 to comment on an interconnection order issued by Panama's public services regulator ERSP.

ERSP will then spend up to a month reviewing the two full-service providers' comments before issuing the definitive resolution, a source within the regulatory body told

ERSP had to intervene to set interconnection terms because the pair failed to reach an agreement after some three months of talks. "This is ERSP's first interconnection conflict, and should serve as a model to help save time in future cases," the source said.

Panamanian incumbent C&W (CWP: up $0.62 to $12.87, Research, Estimates) is scheduled to lose market exclusivity in January 2003, and ERSP has already begun screening prospective market entrants.

Tricom (TDR: unchanged at $5.69, Research, Estimates) aims to invest $65 million in Panama over three years as part of its $331 million Central American investment program. The company is scheduled to launch trunking services using Motorola's (MOT: up $0.24 to $15.74, Research, Estimates) Iden technology in October, but has come up against opposition from mobile operator BSC de Panama, a unit of BellSouth (BLS: down $0.55 to $41.40, Research, Estimates).

Although a Panamanian judge accepted an injunction filed by Bellsouth and ordered Tricom to suspend installation of infrastructure earlier this month, Tricom has stuck by its investment plan and launch schedule, Tricom spokesman Miguel Guerrero told

"ERSP has expressed on numerous occasions that it is in favor of Tricom's participation and that it does not regulate the technology used. We feel that this action by Bellsouth is just delaying tactics, to delay what is inevitable," Guerrero said.

Visa sees substantial regional online purchases

Foster City, Calif.-based Visa expects Latin Americans to make $16.4 billion worth of online purchases with its credit card this year, equivalent to 10 percent of total Visa transactions in the region, Visa Latin America & Caribbean e-commerce Vice President Jurgen Wassmann told

Last year online purchases in Latin America represented only 0.2 percent, or $328 million, of Visa's $164 billion total billing in the region, while in the United States online purchases accounted for 10 percent-plus of total billing, Wassmann said.

The card issuer is banking on alliances with horizontal portals UOL in Brazil, AOL (AOL: up $0.78 to $33.13, Research, Estimates), the parent company of, in Mexico, Starmedia, and Barcelona, Spain-based Terra Lycos to bring the Latin American online percentage in line with the U.S. figure, he said.

In the region Visa is focusing on boosting billing, establishing the card as a preferred payment method, penetrate key market segments and promote a secure online payment system based on user verification.

According to eBit's July-August study of 17,400 Internet buyers and 1,000 stores in Brazil, Visa and rival Mastercard each control 37 percent of the online payment market, compared to a similar study in May that showed Visa with 41 percent and Mastercard with 29 percent.

Wassmann said he was unfamiliar with the study, but said the company's own statistics shows that 93 percent of online merchants accept Visa and its actual share of the payment market is 55 percent.

Meanwhile Visa is testing mcommerce applications in the United States and Europe, which will be implemented in Latin America at an unknown date in the future, he said. "We see a lot of potential in m-commerce since it falls under what we call u-commerce, which is the ability to make purchases anytime, anyplace from any phone."

E-chamber Signs Agreement with IBP

Brazil's e-commerce chamber Camara-e has teamed up with the country's e-commerce & IT experts institute IBP to give its members access to services such as traffic and e-mail monitoring and investigations into online fraud, according to an IBP statement.

IBP Brasil was conceived to help companies that engage in electronic transactions and protect them from fraud. Camara-e executive director Cid Torquato said the number of legal cases involving online transactions is on the rise.


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