SkyBlue Transactions makes payments 'ezee'
Co-founders of SkyBlue Transations Solutions Kyle Lewis and Narda Ventura.

Exemplifying the adage "necessity is the mother of invention", co-founder and CEO of SkyBlue Transactions Solutions Narda Ventura found herself drawing on her expertise as a former banker to create two e-commerce products: and

Also the managing director and founder of H2O Werx, which offers swimming lessons through her school Aquawerx and trains competitive swimmers through the Viking Swim Club, Ventura considers herself a "serial entrepreneur", so there are more business ideas she plans to act on.

However, it was in 2016, when she found herself behind in paying school fees for her children, that Ventura would begin her journey as founder of SkyBlue Transactions. Frustrated by the lack of adequate options to pay her children's school, she realised that the two she was given involved joining a queue. She either needed to wait in a crowded school office to pay with a card or go to the bank.

After "complaining bitterly about the process" to her husband, Ventura, prompted by a suggestion from him to create a fix, reached out to her now co-founder Kyle Lewis to pitch her ideas for a website. Sharing her enthusiasm for the solution, Lewis agreed to work with Ventura to "validate" the business.

"So...we created the first product,, and we bootstrapped that product. It was a niche product for schools and we bootstrapped [from] 2016 straight up to the start of 2020," Ventura told Jamaica Observer. Bootstrapping refers to the process of using one's own existing resources to fund a company.

"When the pandemic hit, I thought it was an awesome time to launch this product and we fast-forwarded any development we had left to be done and we tried to launch the product with some schools," the CEO of SkyBlue Transactions said.

However, after six months the company was still without a customer. At the same time, her swim school was suffering due to restrictions on movement and fear for the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic due to in-person interactions.

Rather than having 20 children in a group swim class, Ventura downsized that number to three. Additionally, she started offering private lessons at students' homes. With limited access to payment solutions and having to depend on an inefficient system of reconciling bank transfers, the businesswoman decided to apply School Fee Payments technology to "create proof of concept through Aquawerx.

"And we did. We converted 90 per cent of what would have been card transactions, which then became bank transfers, to online payments. And we had an 'a-ha!' moment at that point in time", Ventura recalled.

In that moment she considered the possibility that other small businesses were facing the same obstacles. Taking it further, the entrepreneur decided to test her theory and undertook a small research among businesses with which she was familiar. As she suspected, businesses were struggling to get sales because they were asking customers to effect bank transfers.

After pitching the new solution to the small business operators, offering them a payment page with a similar "feel" to Amazon and receiving positive feedback, Ventura was ready to go to market.

"So we pivoted School Fee Payments, the payment leg of it, created a solution where businesses would have their own hosting payment page. They could brand it with their logo and everything. It had all the security logos verified by Visa and Mastercard — everything that would imply that it's a safe payment page," she explained.

Upon completion of a transaction, both the customers and merchants using the solution would get a notification on the device they are using that the transaction was successful and a subsequent e-mailed receipt.

Ventura and Lewis would then beta test the solution from October 2020 to February 2021 when they decided to launch Ezee Payments. Without much marketing, she said the company has grown organically. But the product is still evolving as the proprietors of SkyBlue Transactions are constantly assessing user experience and making the payment process "easy and seamless" for both the businesses and consumers.

What's more, while the initial aim was to use the e-commerce payment solution as part of a website, Ventura said that the transactions can be effected even if a business does not have a website managed by Ezee Payments' command centre.

"This product can fit anybody, any business of any size — solepreneur as well as an established business that has an ecosystem because it's [malleable]. But there's a segment that nobody has been able to serve effectively, and that's the micro to medium[-sized enterprises]," Ventura told Sunday Finance.

"So, in everything we're doing we're trying to find ways that we can facilitate different payment types and avenues so that they can grow their business. We are really there to empower businesses to grow," she continued.

On the cardholder side, SkyBlue Transactions said it will partner with its clients to offer deals to their customers to boost transactions. One option is a "buy now, pay later" arrangement that allows cardholders to pay for goods in instalments.

When asked what the market feedback has been like, Ventura that there has been overwhelming interest, even without a formal marketing push. She said the company has been able to position itself in front of the "right audiences" such as BizTech and Jamaica Business Development Centre. The company was also featured on the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica's weekly webinar COVID Cast.

"So different communities have bought into our vision and given us a voice on their platforms," she outlined, adding that through word of mouth the company has grown.

For Ventura, growing School Fee Payment and Ezee Payment could not be possible without the support of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, which facilitated the company through its accelerator programme in 2020.

Within the last year, Ezee Payments has received much more exposure from Ventura's attendance at tech and business conferences. At the Fintech Islands Experience conference in Barbados last October, she emerged winner of their pitch competition. A month later she was promoting the product again at the Caribbean Investment Forum in Trinidad and Tobago, and to wrap up the year, at TechBeach Retreat in Rose Hall, St James.

Recognising the problems of payments is a regionwide one, Ventura said the company is also exploring options to grow in the Caribbean.

At present, both School Fee Payments and Ezee Payments process payments for Visa, Mastercard, and working with payment settlement provider First Atlantic Commerce out of Bermuda. Based on SkyBlue Transaction's relationship with National Commercial Bank, it can also process payments effected by Keycard holders.

"As we grow, though, we are in conversations with the two big brands because we are constantly looking for different ways and different products and services that we can leverage and pass on to our merchants," Ventura said, adding that the MSME segment is underserved.

Currently, Ezee Payments serves some 350 merchants; however, the CEO believes that there's untapped potential among informal business owners who are either unbanked or underbanked. Eyeing groups like creatives and vendors who serve the tourism market, she said the company can earn in both Jamaican and US dollars.

Based on the payment processor's relationships with banks, it must ensure compliance with "know your customer" requirements when onboarding new merchants.

With regard to School Fee Payments, SkyBlue has secured its first deal with Emmanuel Christian Academy in St Andrew. Ventura is bullish on attracting more schools in the current calendar year.

SkyBlue Transactions Solutions' employees Kemoren Jones (left) and Monique McIntosh strike a pose with the Ezee Payments banner.
VENTURA... this product can fit anybody, any business of any size — solepreneur as well as an established business that has an ecosystem.
Josimar Scott

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at


  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy