Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Flow Lend surpasses US$1 million in loans

Published:Friday | December 30, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
A FLOW kiosk at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
President of the Caribbean operations of FLOW, Garfield Sinclair.
The FLOW building at Half-Way Tree Road, St Andrew
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FLOW Lend, the mobile top-up app for customers of telecommunications firm FLOW, has advanced more than US$1 million (about J$150 million) in mobile credit in less than six months across the Caribbean region.

"Since many of our prepaid customers don't use credit cards, and usually rely on in-store cash top-ups, FLOW Lend gives them the assurance that they can always stay connected, even when they are out of cash and can't make it to a top-up station," James McElvann, vice-president for products at Cable and Wireless, the operators of FLOW, said in a release.

"We're happy to provide this convenient option to our customers, and we're honoured to be recognised for our efforts and investment in technology that has transformed our customers' experience," he added.

The app, available for both Android and Apple phones, allows users to request credit advances or recharge 'loans' for telephone accounts nearing a low balance. Once the loan is approved, the amount is added to the customers' account and they can call, text and even access data. Customers are encouraged to pay back the loan within a week, but have up to 30 days to repay.

FLOW created the app in partnership with technology firm JUVO. The app won the Mondato Innovation Award for Digital Finance and Commerce earlier this month, said the release.

"C&W is a true partner and we are thrilled to be working with their team to offer FLOW customers real-time access to credit to help them stay connected. Receiving the Mondato Innovation Award, along with the high volume of credit advances issued via FLOW Lend, reaffirms the real need for this solution - and we're excited to provide the identity-scoring technology that powers it," stated Steve Polsky, founder and chief executive officer of JUVO.

Tracks top-ups, usage

The app tracks the frequency of top-ups and other usage patterns to determine which customers have met the requirements for an advance. Once approved, customers can use FLOW Lend to request instant, interest-free credit when they're running low. By consistently paying back on time, they can gradually borrow more and never have to worry about running out of credit.

"We are addressing a real need for many of our customers who may have little or no credit and may be caught in a situation where they desperately need to be in contact," said McElvanna, highlighting the app's benefits. "For example, the mother who needs to call the doctor's office to make an appointment for her sick child no longer has to wait until she has the cash to go buy credit. The teenager who's nearing a low balance late at night, doesn't have to leave the comfort and security of his/her home to visit a top-up centre. Regardless of the circumstance, FLOW Lend is available to our customers, anytime, anywhere."

In Jamaica, Internet revenues now accounts for the fastest growth area and the second-highest earning service for telecommunications providers, according to the most recent industry data reported on by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) for September 2015.

According to the OUR report, mobile revenues hit $13 billion, up 6.5 per cent year-on-year; fixed-line revenues increased 16 per cent to $2.6 billion, and local Internet revenues rose 53 per cent to $4.5 billion.

Last year, the size of the population using the Internet amounted to 1.46 million, a base which is more than half of Jamaica's 2.7 million population. That figure includes 1.3 million mobile Internet users, 161,000 broadband subscribers and 966 narrowband subscribers, according to data from the latest Economic and Social Survey Jamaica, published by the Planning Institute of Jamaica.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com