BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday February 12, 2018 – In a country where about half the population doesn’t have bank accounts, and bank fees can be almost punitive, the principals behind a digitized version of the Barbados dollar are hoping to change the money game.
Mobile money (mMoney), an electronic wallet powered by local fintech company Bitt, allows users to store, send and receive money on their mobile device. More specifically, consumers are afforded the convenience of purchasing products and services, instantaneous peer-to-peer money transfers, and cash-in and cash-out services, all backed by secure, blockchain technology.
“You have a wallet on your smartphone carrying a representation of the Barbados dollar that you can spend via your smartphone at a network at merchants across the country,” explained Bitt’s chief executive officer Rawdon Adams, one of the driving forces behind the initiative.
Even before today’s marketing launch, the mMoney network included more than 130 merchants – and the list is still growing.
“The only thing we don’t have at the moment, but we’re very close to getting, is petrol stations. We’ve got quite a few convenience stores, but we’re probably going to have at least one outlet of a big supermarket later this month, possibly by early March, so at that point we feel we’ll really have just about every type of good people need for day-to-day living covered,” explained Adams.
Use of mMoney for purchases is completely free to the consumer. It simply requires the user to download the app. There is also no cost attached to peer-to-peer money transfers.
“So, if you want to send a relative or a friend in a different part of the island some money, you can send this digital Barbados dollar directly to their phone and they can go right ahead and spend it,” Adams said.
The benefits of mMoney don’t end at the consumers, however.
The app offers participating merchants a smarter, more affordable way to get paid. Unlike the traditional point of sale systems which cost businesses as much as 7 per cent fee per transaction, mMoney is free to merchants until the end of June, and when payment eventually kicks it, it will be at just one per cent of the amount involved in the transaction.
For merchants, mMoney also eliminates the disadvantages associated with cheques, as payment is instant.
Additionally, each mMoney merchant has the ability to function as a teller, allowing customers to either deposit or withdraw money from their electronic wallets. A one per cent charge is paid by the customer for the latter.
To top up the virtual wallet, app users have the option of either using the teller-type service at merchants, or going into Bitt’s Hastings, Christ Church office. Adams says the plan is to eventually add more options for consumers.