The future of currency in the Caribbean is here with WiPay, as CEO and founder Aldwyn Wayne explained, through the new projects being undertaken by WiPay.
So far, 15 countries in the Caribbean have their own FinTech (financial technology) solution and Wayne said they are all different,as WiPay had to cater to the needs of each country.
During a virtual interview with Business Day, he said, “In Grenada, we recently launched our remittance service for Grenada and the eastern Caribbean countries that would allow for money-transfer services via mobile wallet – straight from the US into a mobile wallet in the eastern Caribbean territories.”
Wayne added that WiPay also has an arrangement with the government of Grenada to bear remittance for school grants which are distributed in July.
He explained, “Where you would normally send out cheques to the population for grants, they will be using the WiPay platforms, so a QR code would come to your phone and (recipients) could go into a (participating) grocery store, scan it and get the cash.”
This means that people will no longer have to wait two-three business days for money to be cleared and added to their accounts.
As for Barbados, he said WiPay’s Court Pay system will be established in August for the its judiciary.
“We’re going to give 200 Court Pay cards for maintenance payments straight into a card, so you don’t have to go back into court to receive money. And you wouldn’t need your bank account, because we will be giving you a debit card, and that money goes into it. Then you can go to an ATM and take it up.”
Turning his focus to TT and said the same project launched in Barbados will be launched for the judiciary of TT. Wayne said WiPay has been testing out its Visa debit card to ensure it is functional before its rollout.
This was demonstrated by digital marketing and e-commerce strategist and Business Day columnist Keron Rose on TikTok under his username @keronrose. Rose did a video series on the card showing its many functions, from making purchases online to withdrawing money from ATMs.
“We would have launched this card product in 2019, and we are only now actually reaching the point where we can launch it with all of the necessary regulatory approvals, partnerships and everything that is needed for this to come to market.”
Wayne said rolling out these platforms took longer in TT than in other countries. He added in fairness, WiPay had switched providers as well as encountering many other issues which delayed the initial rollout.
“With this system, the ability to have money settled straight into your account, make online payments, receive online payments from PayPal and other international providers will help benefit the local e-commerce and the economy on the whole, because we now get to partake into the worldwide payment network – Visa and MasterCard – right here in TT in a more meaningful way.”
He said this is because people won’t need a credit card, since the Visa debit card will give access to international payments.
Wayne further explained that these Visa debit cards are bank-issued products, on account of WiPay partnering with a bank to make it possible before WiPay takes on the role of business partner after the agreement is settled. He said in this way, the banks would make it easily accessible to the public.
While the product to be launched first is directed to the judiciary, Wayne said WiPay’s future plans are not only to provide this service to the wider population, but to connect all Caribbean islands for regional commerce.
“We want to interconnect all existing WiPay customers onto one platform that will make it easier for regional commerce to take place. Seeing that WiPay is in every Caribbean island, we could use our network to have a more efficient regional payment network.”
While the technology is there and WiPay is almost there from a delivery standpoint, regulatory approvals are needed before the system is implemented into the Caribbean.
Though these are platforms and services that are highly anticipated, some may be wondering about the cybersecurity details, as WiPay is dealing with FinTech.
Wayne said a significant amount of money goes towards data protection, especially with the sensitive data WiPay may be exposed to.
“We have a number of solutions in place to mitigate against phishing, fraud, spam and charge-back fraud, among others. We literally run a whole business that protects our WiPay business against fraud, and I think it’s fortunate that we started with a technology background, so we fully understand and are cognisant of what’s out there when it comes to technology.”
Wayne said the cybersecurity team is constantly updated and is constantly incorporating solutions from the cybersecurity teams of WiPay’s partners MasterCard and Visa.
“We implement them, ensure that it works, and look out for upgrades and changes. So from a security standpoint, I won’t say there is a solution: we have a number of solutions that we – on an ongoing basis – look (at), evaluate, upgrade, change, because the cyber threats that people are now talking about are at least three months old.”
He said a team is needed to constantly check for new threats and upgrade the security system. Wayne added that because the security system is so strong, he has entered WiPay’s security system into a competition in which ethical hackers are given the chance to try and infiltrate that technological barrier for a cash prize. The competition is yet to be held.
“We think we are there, and that’s why we put our company to the test.”