Mexicans to use cell phones to pay stores and taxis

Taxis traverse the streets of downtown Mexico City in a file photo. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexicans will soon be able to pay for small purchases such as restaurant meals and taxi rides using their mobile telephones, the country’s banks said on Monday.

Telephone operators Telefonica SA TEF.MC and Iusacell CEL.MX are teaming up with big banks such as Citigroup Inc C.N and BBVA BBVA.MC to launch the service, marketed at first toward technology savvy teenagers and expected to debut over the next few months.

Cell phone users will be able to have their bank link their savings account to their telephone so they can make payments to participating stores, restaurants and taxis by sending a text message, Roberto Rodriguez, in charge of the service, said at a news conference.

Most big banks are participating in the service, but Latin American mobile giant America Movil's AMXL.MXAMX.N Telcel, which accounts for more than two-thirds of Mexico's mobile telephones, has yet to sign up.

Using phones to buy items such as train tickets or products in vending machines is commonplace in Japan, but the trend has yet to catch on in the United States.

Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Andre Grenon