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Digicel Group Acquires Paymaster

Published:Saturday | December 12, 2015 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham

Digicel Group has acquired a majority interest in bill payment and remittance company Paymaster for an undisclosed sum. Equally, there was no indication of how large a stake it is.

Established in Jamaica in 1997 by Audrey Marks, the former Jamaican ambassador to the United States (US), Paymaster developed and launched a proprietary Bill Payment Information System. The company reportedly has more than 170 locations in Jamaica and agent relationships with over 40,000 locations in the US and Canada where bill payment collections are received on behalf of over 120 client companies in Jamaica and the US.

Digicel Group CEO Colm Delves said the move was an opportunity for expansion and convergence.

"Paymaster is a great brand and a great product, and we are delighted to welcome it to the Digicel family as we expand our range of products and services consistent with the convergence of communications, e-commerce, and financial services," Delves said.

The deal will see Paymaster continuing to operate independently, with Marks staying in her positions as both a shareholder and executive chairman. At the same time, Digicel is expecting to leverage the Paymaster platform to extend its product line through the "obvious integration of a mobile application for bill payment", said Antonia Graham, Digicel's head of group public relations.

There are no plans to change the Paymaster brand. Instead, Delves sees it as an opportunity to carve out a bigger space.

"Ambassador Audrey Marks has done a tremendous job in establishing and then growing Paymaster into the highly successful business it is today and we are looking forward to working with her and her team to take it to the next level," Delves said.

Prism acquisition

Digicel recently acquired the powerful but low-keyed financial and ICT outfit Prism. The Gleaner pressed about the recent acquisition and sought to ascertain if it will mean a cross-fertilisation of technologies. Graham was frank in her admission of things to come and what the public is likely to see from the two acquisitions.

"Yes. This is part of the strategy, as all are part of the same family now under the same structure within Digicel," Graham said.

She made it no secret that Digicel would be leveraging the technologies to go into the mobile wallet business, where banking, payments and transfers are done on a smartphone.

Said Ambassador Marks: "This move gives Paymaster the ability to capitalise on some big opportunities, particularly in the areas of online and mobile-based payments. Given our already positive working relationship, we quickly established that Digicel Group is the right strategic partner for Paymaster and I am very excited about the future."

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com