WiPay ready to take Jamaica's e-commerce market by storm

BY HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 30, 2019

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ONE of the senior officials of Trinidad & Tobago-based software company WiPay believes that Jamaicans will be better off working with the latest e-commerce technology that he insists will make things much easier for their small, medium, and large companies in their daily commercial activities.

Chief executive officer of WiPay (pronounced Wee Pay) Alwyn Wayne, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer on Friday, said that the roll-out of his company's offer to Jamaican institutions was a mere “short time” away, with implementation only being held up by regulatory approval, which too is expected soon.

Wayne had the night before launched WiPay at the newly-opened AC Marriott Hotel in New Kingston.

The CEO described WiPay as a software technology company that developed a payment platform for banks and other financial institutions, primarily. It also has on its payment platform credit card processing, similar to global company PayPal and has an added feature which allows customers to top up like a phone card and use that in their online transactions.

“If you install the WiPay facility at a hotel and someone needs to pay for a hotel room, he can go to anywhere that sells a phone card top up, buy a top up for say $5,000 and use the number on the card at the hotel,” Wayne said.

“It is extremely helpful for the small, upcoming entrepreneurs where you could just add a WiPay plug-in to the mobile app or website. If I'm selling something in Negril and someone in Morant Point wants to buy it, I could just go buy a top up and pay on their website or their mobile app or even over the phone with the top up number. The money would go straight into their bank account because the WiPay software allows you to add your bank account as a method to receive your monies,” the CEO stressed.

Wayne said that the software is used by several companies in his native land, among them Caribbean Airlines, Massy Stores, and Digicel.

“A lot of big companies use it, but so [do] many small ones. It has grown so much that the State got involved and the judiciary of Trinidad & Tobago now uses it for all its payments. So over TT$500 million of the Judiciary's money is managed through WiPay, including maintenance payments, fines, filing fees, etc. They use our platform to do it,” Wayne revealed.

As far as reaching out to the Jamaican market goes, Wayne said that WiPay's financial partners in this the largest of the English-speaking Caribbean islands were working at steady pace to get implementation ticked off the agenda.

“We are a software company so we can't just start in Jamaica like that, so we have to have a partner to work with, like a bank, which we do... that's why we launched. It is not yet finalised, all the bells and whistles not yet in place, but it's getting there. We are looking at a July or August go-live.

“From a software side, everything is ready... it's just now all the paperwork from a regulatory standpoint from the financial institution, so that's outside of our hands. The financial institution will talk to its regulators, tell them what they are doing, and they are just going through the process to tell them that all the things that they are doing are ready,” stated Wayne.

Not only banks are involved, but organisations with financial arms are also in the mix, the WiPay CEO said.

“We don't necessarily need to have one financial partner. We will be partnering with a bunch of financial institutions to provide a range of services. You may see 'Bank One' come up with something, and you will see another company with financial services to benefit from what we have, under their custodian,” said Wayne, whose company will set up a Jamaican operations office in the Kingston 5 section of the Corporate Area.

Wayne insists that the introduction of WiPay will result in something resembling a commercial payment revolution in Jamaica.

“What we saw in Trinidad is the advancement of micro and small businesses. Online payments in Trinidad were hovering around 200 businesses. In the last year of our launch we have over 7,000 customers, mainly small businesses. To go online in Trinidad is a painstaking task... of going to the bank, opening a merchant account, getting a software developer to develop the bank's documents onto your site in terms of integration. It's about a two-month process and you have to have money. So the average man on the side of the road who may not have that money, somebody now trying to enter business, would not have that kind of capital to pay to the bank. The money they have maybe would be enough to just try and get the business off the ground. With WiPay you just download the plug-in for free, so you could see a drastic increase in e-commerce because you are now giving everybody the chance.

“Let's say a newspaper wants to increase its postings for classified ads, but people have to pay the paper. Now, imagine you could put something free on your website that I could post my vehicle, or whatever I have to sell, take a picture of it, let's say to post it is $10,000. All I have to do is go to a company, buy a top-up, send the picture, scan the top-up and the money goes directly to the newspaper's account. So it makes payments easier. We will remove a barrier for payment,” a confident Wayne reasoned.

Jamaica will become the third Caribbean nation to embrace WiPay. The move is seen as equating the Caribbean to First World procedures in e-commerce and is applicable and relevant 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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