Thu | Sep 21, 2017

COK regains remittance foothold through new alliances

Published:Sunday | August 6, 2017 | 8:00 AMAvia Collinder

COK Sodality Credit Union, whose remittance business was hit last year by account closures linked to derisking by correspondent banks is now shrugging off the experience and forging new ties with local money-transfer businesses.

Back in September 2016, the credit union announced that its outlets would not longer be able to facilitate Fast Funds remittances to Jamaica due to the closure of their accounts.

Then in December, AndrÈ Gooden, the acting chief business development officer, said in an online notice that five of its partnerships were terminated, namely with Unitransfer, Caribbean Airmail, Money Exchange, Transfast and Ria.

Previously, the credit union served clients in the United State, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Cayman Islands and other parts of the Caribbean, through the partnerships.

COK Remittances Supervisor Nadine Matthews said on Friday that since this time the credit union has reconfigured its arrangements in a manner which reduces risk - taking on other partners who themselves share the risk involved.

The credit union now has alliances with alliance now do business in partnership with Jamaica National, VMBS, JMMB, Lasco Financial, and Tropical Money Systems.

The cancellation of some agent arrangements in December was described by Matthews as a business decision.

"We had banking issues with our partners because of the derisking and debanking that was facing the remittance sector. We had a few issues in receiving reimbursements," she said.

"At this point in time, the onus now is not on us as a local partner, but basically with our five remittance partners, which would have been VM, JN, Lasco and others, for them to receive money from their international persons as reimbursement and then they would send to us."

 

FIVE BRANCH LOCATIONS

 

COK Sodality's remittance service operates at five branch locations - Cross Roads and Half Way Tree in Kingston, Portmore, Mandeville and Montego Bay.

In June, COK and VMBS announced a new remittance partnership. Mathews said VMBS brings to COK nine platforms.

"VMBS has a wide range of options for our members living all over the world," said Matthews, who reeled off the geographic reach under the new partnership as extending to North America, United Kingdom, Europe, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos.

"They also have MoneyGram, which is global," the remittance supervisor said. "We have a wide range to facilitate all our members from all walks of life."

VM Money Transfer CEO Michael Howard said the COK deal was VMTS' first such partnership with another local financial institution.

"However, in an effort to constantly improve our services to our clients by increasing our subagent network, we are in discussions with other entities. These partnerships will significantly grow the VMTS market share," he said.

Both VM and Jamaica National have developed their own remittance transfer systems. Howard said VM Money uses the MoneyGram platform to process MoneyGram transactions and a VMBS-owned platform to process VMTS transactions.

Matthews noted that the JN Money network is now one of the biggest available to COK's clients.

"So you can go to any JN location internationally and send money. Pick up can be done at any one of our five locations. JN is international and in a lot of locations - too many to even count. They also offer MoneyGram which is global," she said.

Meantime, so as not to run afoul of anti-money laundering laws, Matthews said COK now requires that recipients of money transfers complete an authorisation form giving the sender permission to remit the funds.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com