Gerald Hadeed

WiPay chairman, Gerald Hadeed; Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon; WiPay chief

executive, Aldwyn Wayne; and WiPay chief operations officer, Sacha Thompson, at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain at a WiPay Day function in November 2019.

 —Photo: Shannon Britto

MASTERCARD, the American network payment processing giant, has signed a multimillion dollar, multi-year and multi-country non-equity investment in T&T’s WiPay, which will lead to the roll-out of a new virtual card by the end of April.

The card, which will be called Rebel, is going to be a pre-paid card with funds loaded on to customers’ mobile phones through their bank accounts. The virtual, pre-paid card will be used to make local, TT-dollar purchases from online providers of goods and services, said WiPay’s chief executive Aldwyn Wayne.

“This Rebel card was due to be launched at the end of May along with a physical card. But because of social distancing caused by COVID-19, and the requirement for a significant percentage of the population to stay at home for the next two weeks, we decided to bring up the launch of this new online, prepaid card to this month,” said Wayne.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many traditional businesses to go fully online in order to sustain their business continuity.

“How is the general public going to make online payments for local goods and services if only 10 to 15 per cent of the local population have credit cards? So, because the Rebel pre-paid card is going to be loaded on people’s mobile phones, it is going to facilitate commerce by allowing instant payment for goods and services,” said Wayne.

He noted that no other company is providing a service that will facilitate both the development of local e-commerce providers as well as allowing local tech-savvy, online customers to purchase local goods and services.

Republic Bank will be the sponsor of the card and the provider of the Bank Identification Number. WiPay is the programme manager for the Rebel card , which will run on the MasterCard network.

The non-equity investment by MasterCard in WiPay is the first collaboration of its kind between a global payment processor and a regional fintech company.

The collaboration between MasterCard and WiPay for the virtual, pre-paid card aims to drive financial inclusion, and is the first in what the companies call a robust suite of payment and acceptance solutions.

In a statement, MasterCard and WiPay said that as a part of the collaboration,WiPay will:

— Leverage Mastercard’s Bank in the Box solution to empower MSEs through card acceptance. Bank in the Box is an end to end solution for MSEs that do not accept card payments and that are not financially included.

—Issue Mastercard prepaid cards, strengthening local digital ecosystems and facilitating seamless, fast, and transparent disbursements of funds for MSEs and citizens;

As a part of the partnership, WiPay will:

—Leverage payment solutions for government programmes, including:

—CourtPay - to facilitate court maintenance disbursements such as child support;

— GovPay - to facilitate public help services.

“We found in WiPay a knowledgeable partner to bring our vision to life and are excited to partner with them to bring these robust solutions to the market,” stated Marcelo Tangioni, Mastercard’s Caribbean division president, adding, “This important partnership builds on our commitment to lead the journey towards developing smarter islands and cashless societies to strengthen economies and increase financial inclusion throughout the region.”

“This partnership is huge for the Caribbean as it allows WiPay to accelerate financial inclusion by delivering innovative financial products to the unbanked and underbanked of the region.

“On a macro level, it enables WIPay’s regional settlement network to run on MasterCard’s payment rails, improving the ease of doing business in the Caribbean, particularly within the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME)” said Wayne.

The collaborative solutions will launch in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago initially, with roll-outs in Dominica, Barbados, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent, and in the Bahamas, among others in the near future. While the virtual, pre-paid card is expected to be launched this month, the physical card is expected to be launched in May.

At a WiPay Day last November, Point Fortin-born Wayne, hinted that the company is looking to go public by listing WiPay on a regional stock exchange.

“We do have intentions of going public. It’s not going to be here. It’s going to be on the best-performing stock market in the world—Jamaica,” said Wayne, in an interview with Express Business after the event.

Jamaican stocks increased by almost 300 per cent in the five years between 2014 and 2018 in US-dollar terms, according to a Bloomberg report earlier this year, more than quadrupling the next-best-performing national benchmark. In that same period, the TTSE’s composite index, which includes three Jamaican companies, increased by 13.3 per cent.

“We are a Caribbean-based company. If we need to list, we would obviously list within the Caribbean. Besides being the best-performing stock market in the world, Jamaica is the best performing stock market in the region.”

Wayne said last November WiPay is looking to leverage the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s master agreement with Canadian fintech, Blockstation, which allows the listing of digital assets, to raise new capital through a security token offering (STO) instead of an IPO.

In October 2019, Republic Bank paid about US$10 million to acquire a 19.99 per cent equity stake in Nobis BaaS Ltd, a subsidiary of WiPay Holdings Ltd, subject to regulatory approval.

The Nobis BaaS’ software platform enables digital payments to be made online through web browsers or mobile apps and at retail points of sale.

The platform brings added ease, convenience and security to payments on a wider scale, for both public and private sector organisations.

WiPay, a software company, is a secure, fully integrated payment processing platform for Internet commerce, designed and engineered to help grow your business faster and more efficiently. Its platform allows anything connected to the Internet to move money quickly, safely and at a low cost for the ‘banked’ and ‘underbanked’.

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