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JCUES gets green light - First privatemobile-money licence granted by central bank

Published:Friday | July 26, 2013 | 12:00 AM
This invitation, in the form of a cell phone, was sent out by JCCUL for the launch of its new epayment service, JCUES, in March 2012. - File Photos


The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) has granted approval for the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League's (JCCUL) mobile-money product, which facilitates electronic bill payment, balance enquiries and cellphone top-ups.

The JCCUL received official approval through correspondence received from the central bank on July 16.

The green light comes three months after BOJ put in place new guidelines for 'Electronic Retail Payment Services', which includes e-money services, under which service providers must be licensed.

The guidelines, which took effect April 1, set the framework for the development of a mobile money market in Jamaica.

Approval of JCCUL's product, known as Jamaica Credit Union E-Payment Service, or JCUES, also comes a year and four months after the umbrella agency first attempted to roll out a pilot for the e-payment service developed in partnership with technology provider Mozido.

JCUES has a potential market of one million credit union members. JCCUL planned, however, to first test the product through the Jamaica Police, C&WJ, St Catherine, Montego and Churches credit unions. The launch planned for March 2012 was shot down by the BOJ, which said JCUES had not been assessed or approved.

Now that it has that approval, JCCUL said on Wednesday that it is now finalising the participating credit unions and billers in the first phase of the e-payment services programme, as well as timelines for others to come on board.

JCCUL said it will announce the participants "together with details on the delivery of the JCUES mobile wallet solution."

The JCCUL statement quoted both group CEO Glenworth Francis, and Heston Hutton, managing director of its subsidiary, Centralised Strategic Services Limited, as saying they were pleased with the BOJ's approval.

Attempts by the Financial Gleaner to ascertain whether the central bank had approved any other licences were not successful up to press time.

The BOJ, however, had previously approved a state-sponsored mobile-money project called M3 being executed by Development Bank of Jamaica, in conjunction with National Commercial Bank Jamaica, for the benefit of SMEs.

Mozido LLC previously disclosed that the company had invested more than US$3 million in the lease and retrofitting of office space in New Kingston, staff, research and development, and technical infrastructure for subsidiary Mozido Jamaica.

The disclosure came amid attempts by the American company to pressure BOJ into a more speedy decision.

Mozido aims to pursue a regional build-out across the Caribbean, using Jamaica as the hub for the entire Latin America.

Jamaica, with 120 per cent mobile phone penetration and the underbanked estimated at about 70 per cent of the population, is being targeted by several technology providers for mobile-money products.