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[Interview] Anticipating World Cup 2014, MEF Describes Trends for Brazilian Mobile

Brazil MEF is a global trade association for the mobile media industry with member networks consisting both of strong local representatives and a diversified international members. Established in 2000, MEF connects the mobile industry and drives market growth through its impartial and influential voice that helps pioneering companies across the mobile content and commerce value chain. MEF is headquartered in London with chapters and offices in Asia, EMEA, Latin America, and North America.

We spoke with Rafael Pellon, General Manager of MEF’s Latin American chapter, to get his perspective on the mobile media industry in Latin America and its future in 2013. MEF LATAM’s mission is to foster an environment conducive to mobile entertainment development across the region. MEF creates dialogue between the industry and regulators while driving initiatives that promote best practices and sustainable business solutions. Pellon has worked in the telecom industry for 12 years.

1.  It’s exciting that Brazil is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and this is garnering a lot of international attention. How is this affecting the telecom industry in Brazil?

There are legal obligations that the World Cup organization establishes and they put in a lot of regulations for companies participating in the World Cup. One of the biggest changes for the telecom sector in Brazil is that 4G service is required in all of the stadiums hosting games and in the urban areas surrounding the stadium. When you think about the city of San Paolo, there are 18 million people living in urban areas there so it’s a lot of ground to cover. Carriers are running like hell after 4G coverage. There are serious fines for carriers that don’t comply with this.

2. What are the trends of the Brazilian market in 2013 and 2014?

A trend I see is a lot of investment in mobile services such as mEducation. There are 60 million people in the middle class in Brazil and a majority of this population doesn’t know how to speak English or Portuguese very well. We have to look into them and one of the fastest ways to reach them is through their smartphones or tablets so that they can learn on their way home during their commute or something. We have launched services by Vivo, which is the largest telecom carrier in Brazil. In 3 months, language dissemination services from Vivo and other telecom carriers such as Claro received 3-4 million subscribers. People can even learn French by their cell phone.

Another trend I see is with the World Cup approaching next year, we have a huge investment in sports content and brand. Then you’re going to see a lot of services investing in m-commerce and in digital and physical goods.

3. How is mCommerce changing the telecom industry?

mCommerce is driving innovation in the telecom sector right now and in mPayments especially. We have a lot of issues with the banking industry in Brazil because it is one of the most regulated banking industries in the world, if not the most regulated. To launch new services in the mCommerce sector, there are a lot of regulations to work with and often conflicts arise from this. But carriers are continually looking for new ways to overcome this problem.

4. Are there mobile internet companies that have successfully launched outside of Brazil? What are the trends of this movement?

There are a few big Brazilian companies expanding in Latin America. These companies are growing in Mexico, Argentina and Chile mostly. There are a few companies going to Asia and developing in China and India. The whole concept of going to Asia and China is that there are more developed markets and it is easier to hire developers and labor over there because there are less labor laws. The companies being built there are to develop new services which will launch in Brazil and Mexico. Brazil is still the largest mobile market in Latin America. As a result, Brazilian companies are developing m-commerce services in Mexico and Africa because these countries are lacking the resources to do it themselves.

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