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Mobile wallet providers race to the starting line - Casserley, AIS among investors-in-waiting

Published:Wednesday | July 10, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Development Bank of Jamaica launches M3 - Mobile Money for Microfinance pilot project, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, February 2013. - File

The providers of mobile wallet technology and Jamaican service providers are already developing partnerships to launch into business as soon as the central bank green lights the permits.

The Bank of Jamaica has formulated a new payment system and has invited companies to apply for mobile money licences.

Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS) of Kingston has launched a visible marketing campaign for US-based technology partner MOBIbucks.

And PayToo Mobile Wallet is working with former business process outsourcing entrepreneur, Jamaican, Patrick Casserly, on a regional roll-out.

Casserly, through his Florida-based company eMagination Inc, and the PayToo network have created a new subsidiary - PayToo Caribbean - which will manage the deployment of the mobile wallet service in 26 countries, starting in Jamaica.

AIS and MOBIbucks said in a joint statement that they are set to roll out their mobile money product in the Caribbean - also starting in Jamaica - within the next year.

Mobile money platforms allow users to carry out cashless transactions using their cell phones. Mobile money is seen as a development tool because it offers the unbanked a convenient platform to execute money transactions.

Ronallie Sirju, marketing representative with AIS, told Wednesday Business that MOBIbucks will be ready for use before the end of the year, and that the company has signed on with several financial intuitions.

It was the duty of the financial institutions, she said, to apply to the central bank for roll-out of company-branded mobile money services, not AIS.

Sirju said more information would become available on the MOBIbucks partnership at a later date.

BOJ invited applications for electronic retail payment service providers in April. The bank, however, remains mum on the status of applications.

Its quietly deliberative approach is creating impatience among mobile money investors rearing to launch into business, the more vocal of them being tech company Mozido Jamaica.

In 2012, Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League and Mozido were forced to delay the roll-out of their epayment platform, called JCUES, after the central bank declared that the product needed its approval.

That approval was delayed as the central bank focused on developing the framework for a mobile money market.

Mozido, which is Texas-owned, said in February that its US$3m invested in Jamaica was being put at risk.


Queries to the BOJ in mid-June on the status of the review of JCUES have gone unanswered. Otherwise, the central bank has approved a mobile money pilot project, which is targeted at the microfinance sector and spearheaded by the Development Bank of Jamaica.

PayToo, which revealed the partnership with Casserley in a statement, said PayToo Caribbean will provide Jamaican mobile phone users with "access to an array of convenient products and services such as cost-effective remittance services, salary direct deposits, and to add credit instantly and securely to their mobile wallet conveniently at retail locations throughout Jamaica and soon making its way to the rest of the Caribbean."

Efforts at comment from eMagination were unsuccessful.

Casserley is quoted in a PayToo release as saying the goal is for any person "to get paid, to have access to short-term credit, pay bills, shop, make calls and top up cell phones anywhere in the world and pretty soon much more like paying bus fare or playing the local lottery - all with just a cell phone."

Jamaica this year committed US$20 million to technology development, "and the mobile wallet is the star among them," Casserley said.

"With over five million cell phones ready to be used for these new services, we plan to deploy a 360-degree suite of services covering the needs of local enterprises, merchants, transportation providers and users," he said.

The PayToo brand is owned by PayToo Corp, an American company formed in 1999. PayToo Mobile Wallet, a global platform, was among the first to combine telecommunications and mobile payments, all drawing from a single account.

Patrick Casserley built his name in ICT through his company E-Services Group, which was snapped up by ACS years ago and later fell into the hands of Xerox at its takeover of ACS. The PayToo release says he is currently the head of five companies.

Research conducted by the University of the West Indies and cited by state minister Julian Robinson in the Sectoral Debate, shows that 34 per cent of the adult population in Jamaica do not own bank accounts - referred to as unbanked.

Of the 66 per cent that own a bank account, only 12 per cent own transactional accounts - that is, highly banked.

The numbers show that over 80 per cent of adult Jamaicans have limited access to a low-cost, efficient and easily accessible payment channels.