My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why Digicel's purchase of Paymaster means Mobile Money is launching in 2016

Friday, December 11, 2015

Why Digicel's purchase of Paymaster means Mobile Money is launching in 2016

“This move gives Paymaster the ability to capitalise on some big opportunities particularly in the areas of online and mobile-based payments. Given our already positive working relationship, we quickly established that Digicel Group is the right strategic partner for Paymaster and I am very excited about the future”

Executive Chairman of Paymaster Audrey Marks in a joint statement with Digicel regarding the takeover of her company

Digicel, it seems, is going after the Mobile Money market after all.

This as on Friday December 11th 2015 Digicel has acquired Paymaster for an undisclosed sum of money as reported in the article “Digicel Group Buys Paymaster”, Published Friday December 11, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This purchase comes a week after the purchase of Prism Holdings, again for an undisclosed sum on Friday December 4th 2015 as reported in the article “Digicel Acquires Prism In A More Serious Play For Mobile Money Market”, Published Friday December 4, 2015, by Neville Graham, The Jamaica Gleaner and “Digicel acquires controlling interests in Prism Holdings”, published Wednesday, December 02, 2015, the Jamaica Observer

Now with this latest purchase, it definitely seals it; Digicel is making a push for Mobile Money by 2016. Paymaster, which specializes in Bill payment was started by Audrey Marks in 1997 has some 170 shops in Jamaica as well as 40,000 locations in the United States and Canada as reported in the article “Digicel Group acquires Paymaster”, published Friday, December 11, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

Paymaster now belongs to Digicel Jamaica with Audrey Marks remaining as the executive chairman of Paymaster.

Digicel it seems likes this partnership as it will expand their product and service offerings according to Digicel Group CEO, Colm Delves: “Paymaster is a great brand and a great product and we are delighted to welcome it to the Digicel family as we expand our range of products and services consistent with the convergence of communications, e-commerce and financial services”.

Wait, did he just say “communications, e-commerce and financial services”? Does this mean that they’ll soon be launching a Mobile Money platform in Jamaica?

Digicel purchases Paymaster - Why Digicel is launching Mobile Money in 2016

It certainly looks that way.

Digicel has long been rumoured to be launching a Mobile Money service in Jamaica in Partnership with ScotiaBank since May 2014 as predicted in my blog article entitled “Digicel's Mobile Money Service in 2014 - Haiti Tcho Tcho with ScotiaBank heralds Cashless Society by 2015”. 

This however did not materialize at the end of the 2014.

Meanwhile Paymaster became the Third-party Bill Payment Processor for JCCUL (Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League)'s CONEC Mobile Wallet later in September 2014 as reported in my blog article entitled “JCUES now CONEC Mobile Wallet - Why CONEC Mobile Wallet still inconvenient despite Paymaster and Remittances in the JCCUL-Mozido Jamaica mix”. 

With Supreme Ventures muscling it way into Mobile Money via a upgrade of their betting platform and mobile apps with the new IFLEX Betting Platform in October 2015 as reported in my blog article entitled “Supreme Ventures Limited IFLEX Betting Platform Upgrade - How Mobile Gambling via Smartphone is finally coming to Jamaica”, it appeared that the Mobile Money arena was getting really crowded really fast.

This prompted me to again predict Digicel making a Mobile Money push in 2016 as they'd recently rebranded Digicel Tcho Tcho to Mon Cash as reported in my blog article entitled “Why Digicel Mon Cash Rebranding for Haiti means Mobile Money coming in 2016”. 

How Digicel Mobile Money will work - Launch in First Quarter of 2016 with QR Codes 

So with this latest announcement, expect a more detailed announcement come either Friday December 25th 2015 or by January 1st 2015 with a full product launch later in the Third Quarter of 2016.

This as they’ll have to get regulatory approval for their Mobile Money platform from the BOJ (Bank of Jamaica) as was the case with the JCCUL as noted in my blog article entitled “JCCUL get's approval from BOJ to launch their JCUES Mobile Money Platform - JCUES Mobile Money Wolverine marks the Kick-Ass 2 beginning of a Cashless Society”.

Also unlike CONEC Mobile Wallet, I suspect Digicel Mobile Money (Simple but straightforward name!) will not only be capable of paying for Mobile Credit and Data plans from your smartphone but also will be used to enable the unbanked in Jamaica with older cell phones to make purchases at any location that has as Digicel POS terminal.   

Additionally, Digicel may choose to use a QR Code based system to enable anyone from street vendors to storeowners to be able to conduct Mobile Money transactions using their smartphones.

This is following on the example of WeChat, SnapScan and FlickPay which enables phone to phone money transfers, receiving remittances as well as QR code purchases as reported in my blog article entitled “Why WeChat ewallet in South Africa as ScotiaBank Jamaica and Digicel going Cashless”.

Digicel needs ScotiaBank partnership – US$2 billion per year Remittance market as pieces fall into place

Finally, they might soon be making a partnership with ScotiaBank to enable Jamaicans to use their smartphones to make ATM (Automated Teller Machine) withdrawals, as they'll most likely be banking partner as is current the case with Mon Cash in Haiti.

Already ScotiaBank may be gearing up for a Mobile Money push, having enable Cross-Bank Transfers as noted in my blog article entitled “Why ScotiaBank is introducing Cross-Banking Transfers – Supreme Ventures Mobile Money on the horizon”. 

Digicel is going after Mobile Money to tap into the US$2 billion per year Remittance market before the predicted global slowdown of Remittances due to the falling price of Oil as predicted in my blog article entitled “World Bank's Global Remittance Slowdown - Why Jamaica's Remittance will slow in 2016 as Saudi Arabia Runs out of US Dollars”.

Digicel will thus be launching Mobile Money in the Year of the Monkey 2016 as the final missing pieces to the puzzle are slowly falling into place.  

But the obvious question begs; How will FLOW Jamaica respond?

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