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Jamaica Not Willing To Join The Mobile Remittance Revolution Just Yet
|Date Added: March 21, 2012 09:56:01 AM|
|Category: Society: Economics: Development Economics|
There seems to be a quiet revolution happening in the money remittance industry. From over the counter and demand draft, it is moving towards mobile handsets. The international remittance and payment industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation; from hard cash, demand draft and pay-orders of the past to wire transfers and instant cash in the present to mobile-to-mobile payments in the future. Remittance is a $350 billion annual global industry and is expected to rise as new markets begin to open. Many of these new markets face a banking problem as the population of rural regions are either unbanked or under banked. However, mobile technology has managed to tunnel through this problem by enabling mobile money transfers. Countries like Kenya and Indonesia are already experiencing the benefits of mobile communication as a payment platform. It seems a common sense approach for countries who have weak banking markets to leap at the mobile sector. However, not for some. Jamaica is a country that has a regular banking system for it's population but the market is under used. Nonetheless, it still views mobile as an unsteady path to tread on which is proving unfavourable to companies. Kavin Hewitt, the CEO of mobile money services business Mozido Jamaica said that while his company's own application of mobile technology, Genius Wallet, is available in other countries, it's introduction in Jamaica would be further subject to the regulations of it's market. This means that the Bank of Jamaica would most likely have to deregulate the digital services and while it spells delays in product launches, some voices say there is good scope for the cautious actions of the central bank. "Jamaica has a high profile with regards to money laundering, so we have to tread carefully. The BOJ (Bank of Jamaica) is leaving no stone unturned," said managing director of Lasco Financial Services Limited, Jacinth Hall-Tracy, on Thursday. "They are currently preparing a draft policy on mobile money which is only in its preliminary stages. We would love to introduce such cutting-edge technology, but it makes no sense to even spend on investigating the options at this point. We have no idea what we will be permitted to use," Hall-Tracy said. The statements from the bank are unpromising for companies who wish to launch products on the mobile market, particularly with the remittance industry expected to grow further in 2012 as it rose to a new high for inflows at US$2.025 billion last year. Mozido Jamaica, a subsidiary of the US based global cloud payment network, Mozido, introduced Genius Wallet for use with mobile phones in February 2012. Similar to Zoompass, which uses applications accessible through a mobile device to receive and request currency, Genius Wallet allows for direct remittance transfers between sender and receiver. However, Natalie Hayes, division chief of the BOJ's Banking and Market Operations Division said last week that there were no applications before the central bank for the offer of remittance services on a mobile, Internet-enabled platform. "The offer of remittance payment services in Jamaica may only be undertaken with the authorisation of and licensing by the Bank of Jamaica under Section 22G of the Bank of Jamaica Act. Remittance service providers can only operate under directions issued by the Bank of Jamaica. These directions are available on the Bank's website." Mozido says it envisages a strong commercial viability in Jamaica for its products, and that it's applications make it easy for mobile phone users to securely conduct business. "Jamaica has one of the highest penetration of mobile phones in the world," said Mozido, which claims that there are 3.1 million mobile phones in use locally. If the technology can prove its robustness and effectively deal with money laundering by using an effective money transfer system then the Bank of Jamaica maybe inclined to make the required policy amendments allowing further remittance avenues to benefit the Caribbean island.
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