Heston Hutton, managing director for Centralised Strategic Services Limited (CSS), said Thursday that its credit union parent will look next at offering remittances in the suite of services to be rolled out under its mobile money solution, JCUES.
Even while the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) is examining the proposal, he said, the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL) is in negotiations with MoneyGram International to sign up as agent/receiver.
"We believe we can significantly grow their penetration level in Jamaica and across the region," Hutton said at the launch of JCUES - Jamaica Credit Union ePayment Services - a US$5-million initiative financed by JCCUL and its partner, Mozido Jamaica Limited.
MoneyGram currently has below 10 per cent of the remittance market in Jamaica, offering the remittance service through a network of storefronts across the island. The dominant player in remittances is reportedly Western Union, a franchise held by the GraceKennedy Group.
JCUES will offer users the ability to receive remittances themselves and pull them into their digital accounts. It has a potential market of some one million credit union members, but will only be open to a portion of them at kick-off of what amounts to a test phase.
Following the July 16 approval of the platform by the Bank of Jamaica, the league yesterday launched phase one of the mobile e-payments system, which will offer bill payment, mobile phone credit top up, and balance enquiries on credit union accounts.
Effective Monday, the switch will be thrown at 12 credit unions which are participating in the pilot - theses being First Heritage, St Catherine, Montego Bay, C&WJ, Jamaica Police, Jamaica Public Service and Partners, Westmoreland, Manchester, Hanover, Kirkvine, St Thomas and Insurance Employees Co-operative credit unions.
Participating credit unions are expected to modify their systems and provide staff training under supervision from CSS, Hutton said.
According to Kavin Hewitt, CEO of Mozido Jamaica, JCUES makes use of secure Internet protocols with encryption of cloud-stored personal information.
"If your phone is stolen, the only thing that you need to replace is the phone itself, as there is no account information on it," he said.
JCUES features customised applications for BlackBerry, Android, high and low-end Java-enabled phones and any phone that is data-enabled, he said.
Hutton states that mobile top-up of Digicel and LIME is free of transaction fees, and that charges for bill payment are in many instances half of the rate charged by other banking institutions.
JCUES' next target is a mobile wallet product but this will not be limited to credit union members, said president of the JCCUL Derrick Tulloch.
The league is budgeting J$10 million for marketing, operations and network agent recruitment, he said.
Hutton said the planned diversification into remittances is expected to become the best income line for JCUES.
Remittances, if the BOJ approves, will become available through JCUES in October, Hutton said.