The SPEI real time payment system operated by the central bank adds an overlay for QR code payment to facilitate digital payment for peer to peer and merchant payments.
A Pioneer in Digital Financial Services
A few years after Mexico launched the Interbanking Electronic Payment System, a new, real-time gross settlement system (RTGS) for high-value transfers and interbank obligations, the central bank (Banco de Mexico) opened up the platform for payments of any size. Better known as SPEI, its Spanish language acronym, the system began to allow Mexican bank account holders to make instant, electronic transfers to other account holders for any payment need using their online banking portals and later, their mobile banking apps.
More recently SPEI expanded its operating hours to nearly 24 hours per day and is working to make the platform an ever more relevant tool for payment services providers. While SPEI has been available for regulated non-bank financial services providers to connect directly for many years, actual usage is low. This is expected to change as a result of the 2018 “Fintech Law” which created a new category of electronic payment entities that are chartered to carry out basic digital financial services.
Mexico is still working to improve financial inclusion in the country – according to the most recent Findex data only 37% of Mexican adults have a bank account and usage of digital payment is much lower with only 13% reporting they use the internet to pay bills or buy something online.
Cobro Digital (CoDi)
A telling indicator that SPEI is a true retail payment platform, as the number of transfers grew significantly; however the average value of those transfers remains low. The 2019 introduction of CoDi (short for digital charge, or Cobro Digital in Spanish) is an effort to build on this foundation and further extend SPEI’s usability and relevance for retail payment.
A new feature or overlay service that sits on top of the SPEI platform, CoDi leverages QR codes to simplify a merchant’s ability to receive a SPEI transfer for the payment of goods or services. It also makes it
easy for individuals to make in-person, peer to peer transfers whereby the payee simply shows a QR code from their mobile banking app to the payer. The payer types in the amount of the transfer and the payee receives the funds immediately.
CoDi is an interbank payment method – users must have a transaction account at a traditional bank or at one of the new electronic payment entities that is connected to SPEI. The financial service provider makes CoDi available in its app.
Zero Cost Merchant Payments
Perhaps the most notable feature of the CoDi functionality is that merchants can receive payments (up to approximately US$ 400 dollars) with no fees for payment acceptance. This is a feature guaranteed by the CoDi rules.
Merchants enroll in CoDi by registering online with the Banco de Mexico, which acts as the scheme Administrator. The CoDi app must be made available to its clients by all banks.
CoDi features both static and dynamic QR codes, can be communicated using NFC, and is also available for online, e-commerce transactions.
Next Section: Section 4: A Closer Look