Credomatic International Corp. has acquired the Mondex smart card franchise for Central America, Mondex International of London announced Wednesday.
Credomatic, a major credit card issuer and processor in the region, is the first franchisee outside of Mondex's global ownership group. Unlike the banks in that group, which own 49% to MasterCard International's 51%, Credomatic will not own equity in the Mondex umbrella organization.
The processor, based in San Jose, Costa Rica, has exclusive rights to develop the electronic cash system in its home country and six others- Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and El Salvador-with a total population of 30 million.
Credomatic, which works with American Express as well as MasterCard and Visa, said it plans first to test Mondex in Costa Rica "in the near future."
"We have looked very closely at the next wave of payment technologies and believe that Mondex is the best solution and clearly ahead of the competition," said Ernesto Castegnaro, Credomatic chief executive officer. He also lauded the "partnership approach" of MasterCard and Mondex.
Tim Stewart, Mondex's executive vice president for the Americas, said the seven countries served by Credomatic are "the first building blocks for Mondex in Latin America."
The company has made major inroads in Canada, and the seven-member Mondex U.S.A. franchise has trials under way or in preparation.
South America, continental Europe, and Japan are three key areas where official Mondex signings are still awaited.