JCCUL 'Conecs' with Paymaster as mobile money partner
The Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL) has tapped into Paymaster Jamaica Limited as distribution partner for the build-out of its mobile money business, which it has rebranded as 'Conec'.
The agreement with Paymaster gives JCCUL access to more than 100 additional outlets from which users of its mobile wallet can conduct cash transactions, and positions the movement to extend its market beyond its one million customer base.
That plan to widen its reach explains why the mobile product has dropped its initial name, JCUES, which stood for Jamaican Credit Union Epayment Services, for the more ubiquitous Conec.
The partnership required Bank of Jamaica's sign off, and the central bank confirmed Thursday that it gave its nod for Paymaster to operate as an agent of JCCUL.
The new digital wallet allows users to receive and send cash of maximum $150,000 in value to other registered users, top up phone credit, transfer money between credit union accounts, pay selected utility bills and check account balances.
The product has been in development for the last five years, with central bank approval sought and secured in the last two. JCUES was the first to market.
Heston Hutton, managing director of Centralised Strategic Services Limited (CSS) - the JCCUL sub-sidiary which has spearheaded the mobile money project, said that the league was seeking other "strategic" partnerships with financial houses in order to build out the number of accounts available to users.
A revenue sharing plan was a possibility, he said, noting that CSS was hoping to convince other banks to partner with the credit unions instead of devising their own products.
"Let's not reinvent the wheel," he said, commenting that with US$5 million already invested in product development by JCCUL and tech-nology partner, Mozido, other companies who are also interested in mobile money products could join the credit unions in the deployment of the service.
Another US$3 million of spend is planned for building out the marketing and distribution network, Hutton said.
The Paymaster partnership includes the use of 21 outlets owned by entrepreneur Audrey Marks for cash in and cash out functions as well as registration for the Conec app.
Marks said at Wednesday's launch of Conec that sub dealers in its bill-payment network, which number close to 100, will be added as payment and collection points.
JCCUL disclosed that it is also seeking to add merchants as cash points and for point of sale transactions.
Hutton said that Paymaster will be paid for each successful registration, but that registration will be free to new users, with JCCUL footing that bill.
The mobile wallet can digitally store credit cards and ID information as well as connect users with credit union accounts. Cash can now be added to the account by payments through Paymaster or to the branches of the 37 JCCUL member credit unions.
Three tiers of cash transactions are allowed, as prescribed by the Bank of Jamaica - J$50,000, $100,000 and $150,000. The tier permitted to each user depends on the depth of personal information provided, Hutton stated. Provision of one ID only will allow transactions up to $50,000 only.
General manager of JCCUL, Glenworth Francis, said the fees to be charged for cash transactions were lower than bank fees and did not require the creation of a bank account. The mobile product is an option for the unbanked.
Telephone top up and placing cash in the digital wallet is free. Cashing out, however, attracts a fee of $21 plus tax. Bill payment is $34.95, including tax. There is also a fee for person-to-person transfers of cash depending on the amount sent. These fees range from $10 to $120.
Mozido Jamaica country manager, Kavin Hewitt, said Conec's user information was stored securely in the cloud, so if phones are lost the information will not be accessible to another user of that phone.
A password and personal infor-maation number are required for all transactions. Cash can be sent worldwide between any two users who have registered and who have the Conec application on their mobile phones.
Now that Conec is off the ground, Hutton said the next phase of the mobile money plan is remittances, which will also require the approval of the Bank of Jamaica.