Lining up: Brazil's biggest airline, TAM, says it has moved toward solving a problem that global airlines call a new frontier: how to find new ways for people to pay for their tickets. TAM has just announced that people in Brazil can pay for their TAM tickets through Brazil's national lottery-ticket outlets. People would have to make a reservation first, either by calling the company or by going on line, and then would have to go pay with cash or another cash-proxy. As TAM's finance vice president, Libano Barrosso, explains, "We hope to reach an audience that does not own a credit card but can afford the promotional fares offered by TAM". The lottery, CAIXA, has more than 9,000 outlets throughout the country, and they have staggered hours, making it possible for working people to pay for tickets outside of office hours.
Pascal Burg, a payments expert at Edgar, Dunn and Co., says this is the first such arrangement he has heard of. He says that some airlines have developed ways to accept payment at banks or post offices, which in some countries serve as banks. Burg says a major problem for airlines in developing countries is that credit-card adoption rates actually lag Internet adoption rates, so a person with Internet access will still pay cash, and he adds that lotteries often hold the status of a trusted institution. One can but hope, though, that the game-of-chance mentality does not transfer from the lottery ticket.