Remittance market heats up
The multi-billion-dollar remittance market has heated up even further as Supreme Ventures Fintech Limited (SVFT) becomes the ninth company to receive a primary agent licence from the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ).
Supreme Ventures Fintech’s entry comes against the backdrop of parent Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) deepening its business reach into financial services from microcredit to bill payments. There are eight other primary agents with TFOB (2021) Limited, which operates the Lynk mobile application, being the last to receive a licence in November 2022.
A remittance is usually defined as money sent from someone such as family and friends from another country to the home country. These funds are used for a variety of reasons from paying bills to developing personal projects.
“Supreme Ventures Fintech is ready to redefine convenience and access to financial services. Through the introduction of Evolve Pay, our bill payment service, Evolve Money Transfer and other products in the pipeline, we will empower individuals, businesses and communities with greater access to retail financial services and wealth creation opportunities. We’re very excited about our entry into bill payment and remittances and are targeting rapid growth in the space,” said SVFT’s Chief Innovation Officer Delroy Anderson in a press release.
Supreme Ventures Fintech has forged its partnership with Ria Money Transfer under the Evolve Money transfer brand. Ria was introduced to Jamaica in March 2019 through Lasco Financial Services Limited which also has Boss Revolution and MoneyGram as its global remittance partners.
SVL has more than 1,300 retail agent locations under its belt across Jamaica ranging from corner shops to gas stations which sell SVL’s products to the public on their behalf. These agents earn a commission relative to the value of products sold at their location. All retail agents of lottery operators are required to be deemed ‘fit and proper’ by the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission.
With respect to remittances or other money services, sub-agents who offer the relevant service on behalf of primary agents typically receive a commission for each transaction processed through their respective location under a sub-agency agreement. Sub-agents are required to also meet the ‘fit and proper’ criteria set out by the BOJ’s guidelines.
Thus, Supreme Ventures Fintech would be able to leverage the broad reach of its retail network to process these remittances once the sub-agents are approved by the BOJ. GraceKennedy Remittance Services Limited currently has the largest presence with the GraceKennedy Money Services (GMKS) network having 300 locations across Jamaica. GK is the exclusive agent of Western Union in several countries.
“We will capitalise on the strength of the Supreme Ventures brand, our robust transaction platform and expansive reach through our retailer network in every nook and cranny of Jamaica. We are executing a phased roll-out of our products across the island. Customers can stay in the know and check for locations close to them that offer our services by visiting our website and social media pages. This is just the beginning of our mission to revolutionize the way people experience financial empowerment. We eagerly anticipate the lasting impact our innovations will have on our customers’ lives,” Anderson added.
Supreme Ventures Fintech’s wholly owned subsidiary McKayla Financial Services Limited recently received a microcredit license from the BOJ in July. Supreme Ventures Fintech is also expected to launch other products under its digital first strategy. Jean-Pierre Robinson is the SVL vice-president responsible for the fintech arm.
Remittance companies processed US$2.96 billion (J$443.34 billion) in 2022 with net remittances coming in at US$3.20 billion according to Bank of Jamaica data. There were 507 locations with 772 licences issued as well. There were 235 companies spread across 511 locations up to Tuesday.
For the first eight months of 2023, inflows to remittance companies were down 3.2 per cent to US$1.93 billion with total remittance inflows down 5.9 per cent to US$2.24 billion. Net remittances are down to US$2.09 billion due to higher remittance outflows during the period.
Of the US$250.50 million processed in August by remittance companies, St. Andrew handled US$71.90 million or 29 per cent of funds received. St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann, Kingston and Manchester accounted for US$108.10 million as the other largest parishes.
GKMS recently signed an agreement with Unicomer Jamaica Limited to offer Western Union across 50 locations across the island while it is awaiting regulatory approval for Lynk to offer Western Union through the mobile app. Alliance Financial Services Limited is also looking to become an instant bill payment provider as it seeks to regain market share following its December 2021 disruption.
While the number of remittance players is increasing, the same cannot be said for the payouts to primary agents. Lasco Financial recently highlighted at its annual general meeting that it is delivering the same amount of revenues four years later, despite doing 40 per cent more transactions. It noted that MoneyGram cut its commissions by 17 per cent in April 2022. Remittance agents have also been impacted with more cash handling costs in the last couple of months.
JMMB Money Transfer Services recently launched an outbound service with MoneyGram which is meant to enable clients to send money across the world in minutes and address some of the pain points small and medium-sized businesses face with international payments.
“We’re thrilled to partner with JMMB Money Transfer to connect to our leading money transfer network to provide their customers, with the opportunity to send money to family and friends just about anywhere in the world. In recent years, MoneyGram has invested in its digital business, leading to explosive growth in digital partnerships across the world, so we continue to get excited about onboarding new partners seeking to access our global fintech solutions. We’re just getting started, and we’re so excited for what’s to come,” said Karlo Torres, head of US Outbound/Latin America & Caribbean at MoneyGram.