Avia Collinder, Business Reporter
Merchant Credit and Securities Registry Caribbean Limited has launched website for the registration of movable collateral.
The registry at qcuun.com is intended to help borrowers, including small-business owners, register items they own as collateral to access the credit markets.
The website also captures details useful to lenders such as the serial number and a description of items used as security or on which a lien has been placed.
"The system also captures the borrower's unique identification such as a driver's licence or passport number so that the item used as collateral can be identified with the customer," said Enith Williams, corporate communications manager for Merchant Credit.
"We are currently working to find unique ways of recommending methods to place numbers on items that do not usually have serial numbers such as furniture and livestock, etc," Williams said.
Merchant Credit was incorporated in January 2007, but launched into business just this year.
The Kingston-based company is owned by Lloyd Campbell, Trevor Hutchinson and Hurshel Cyrus. Campbell is the majority owner with 51 per cent.
The partners have budgeted J$10 million for year-one costs, but have so far spent J$5.6 million on software development and other start-up costs, says Williams.
So far, the registry has captured data from seven financing companies and "almost 100 individuals," she told Wednesday Business.
"We are aware the Government of Jamaica intends to enact a Securities Interests in Personal Property Bill and will seek to operate a Secured Interests Registry. We are in discussions with the relevant ministry of these plans and how our system would fit into these future regulations," she said.
The proposed law governing the creation of security interests in personal property, that is, all property that is not land, is one of several new bills to satisfy structural benchmarks under the four-year extended fund facility approved for Jamaica by the International Monetary Fund in May.
The target markets for qcuun.com are microfinance firms, lenders and borrowers, locally and globally.
"So far, we have rolled out the product in Jamaica and are working to build awareness here and on the World Wide Web," Williams said.
Qcuun allows users to upload images of collateral taken by smartphone or other digital photographic devices. Qcuun does not certify the information, and only items with a serial number can be registered at this time, says Merchant Credit.
"For example, one can register a table but one would have to place a serial number on the item and get it
certified by a justice of the peace in order to show ownership," said Williams.
Items can also be registered at any point of sale, with Internet connection.
Williams said borrowers can register products intended to be supplied as collateral. Retailers can also register items sold on hire-purchase on the website until the debt is paid.
"If the owner wishes to use the item as collateral for a loan and the item has been accepted by a creditor, and a credit facility is extended, a charge or lien is then registered for the item on the website," Williams said.
"If that same borrower takes the same collateral to another subscribed lender to try to secure another credit facility, the website qcuun.com will show that the collateral is already securing a facility with the first lender. The customer then has the choice to offer another item to the second lender. The second lender is protected, as they have not unknowingly offered credit on an item that already has a charge against it."
Qcuun allows the lender to open a private account through which to transact all registration and lien removals.
The information on the website can only be edited by the person who has posted it, she said. A Qcuun technical team provides web support.
The company employs two software developers and two administrative personnel.