Avia Collinder, Business Reporter
Centralised Strategic Services Limited (CSS) is now offering its management advice regionally to credit unions and others, and expects to earn some US$900,000 (J$9.5m) in consultancy fees from its first year of operation, according to Managing Director Heston Hutton.
CSS' first big project was the launch of Jamaica's first regulated mobile payment system, JCUES, in partnership with United States-based technology provider Mozido.
Now, Hutton says, in early November, CSS - which is a subsidiary of the Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League (JCCUL) - will begin talks with two financial institutions in Trinidad, including one credit union, both of which are planning to establish new electronic payment systems.
He declined to name them, but said if the talks pan out, the deals would be valued at US$200,000 for CSS.
To position for its push into regional services, and later a global market, CSS is doubling its tiny staff of four to eight by monthend. The company is now exploring business leads in North and Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean, Hutton told the Financial Gleaner.
Consequently, for 2014, revenue from project management and consultancies are likely to double, he said.
"We have persons from the Philippines, El Salvador and other nations coming here to look at what has been deployed. They are looking at doing similar projects," he told the Financial Gleaner, in reference to JCUES.
CSS resource persons also participated on a panel of experts to provide solutions to the Philippines to boost economic activity in rural areas, said Hutton, and the company also offers consultation services to entities in the Cayman Islands on capacity building and improvements to business and technological infrastructure, he adds.
CSS was created in 2012 to provide wholesale professional products and services, as well as lead a shared service model to support credit unions and other financial services entities in Jamaica across the Caribbean.
It proposes to help organisations to reduce their operational costs and grow margins.
In addition to new staff, Hutton said CSS has cobbled partnerships with professionals in the disciplines of finance, project management, business development and marketing.
He declined to disclose the investment in the planned push.
In Latin America, CSS was commissioned this year to assess the Peruvian epayment infrastructure as local interests seek to expand the electronic-payment network there.
Hutton said that in addition to Mozido, it was partnering with technology provider Bevertec of Canada, which provides the payment switch for its debit products in Jamaica and will "facilitate entry into new markets".
Founded in 1981, Bevertec CST Inc of Ontario is a developer of electronic-payment systems and transaction-processing solutions, with a focus on the financial-services industry.
Bevertec's Jamaican offices are located in the Alma Jones centre on Hagley Park Road in Kingston.
Hutton notes that while the credit union companies and technology providers have no equity investment in each other, their relationship extend beyond payment for services rendered.
"They are strategic relationships," he said.
Inside Jamaica, 10 credit unions of a potential 38 are already signed to deploy JCUES to members. The credit-union sector represents a potential market of 983,000 members.
The services covered include: mobile account balance enquiries; electronic bill payment to phone service provider LIME; cable company Flow; water agency NWC; and mobile credit top-up.
"Our strategy is for the engagement of utility companies which will provide 25 to 30 per cent of total revenue for JCUES," said Hutton. CSS earns a fee from transaction executed through the platform.
The investment from the JCCUL in JCUES to date is just over US$2 million, Hutton said, with matching spend of about US$3 million by Mozido.
"Phase two should commence in 2014 with merchant payments, person-to-person payments and remittances. We are looking to get very aggressive," Hutton told the Financial Gleaner.
"Our interest is the mobile wallet, to truly have financial inclusion for the underbanked," he said.
Approval of the Bank of Jamaica is required for mobile banking and remittance services.