Local financial technology firm Bitt is seeking to turn your mobile phone into a bank with the recent launch of its mobile money (mMoney) application, through which customers can pay for products and services via their smartphones.
Mobile money, which is distinct from mobile banking, operates similarly to a debit card, allowing customers to use an electronic wallet service on their mobile device to store, send and receive money.
In launching the new app at the Primo restaurant in St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church, Chief Executive Officer of Bitt Rawdon Adams said it was his company’s intention to offer all the services offered by commercial banks, including loans, with insurance as a “potential” for the future.
“What we want to do ultimately is that everything the bank can do we want to do it on the phone. So that might mean being able to buy insurance plans, being able to subscribe to a savings plan [and] being able to take out a loan. These are things we plan to bring to the smartphone in the near future,” Adams said.
The Bitt executive said a number of investors had already lined up to help build the network “that is going to be second to none”.
Adams added that the company was engaging all central banks in the region, insisting there were “massive advantages of having a central bank at the heart of a digitized financial system”.
“For us right now it is more than just planning. Earlier this [month] we had one of the central banks in the region agree to participate in a pilot project with us. We can’t say who it is yet,” he said.
Adams contended that the local informal economy was valued at roughly $3 billion, the majority of which did not have access to the services of a bank or similar financial organization.
He said Bitt intended to use new technology to reach that segment of the market.
“We have to take every opportunity we can to include that same profile of financial exclusion,” Adams said.
Barbados TODAY understands that Bitt is also scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding with micro, small and medium sized enterprises here.
The financial technology boss said it was crucial that the industry be regulated, especially if it is to offer similar services to that of banks and insurance companies.
However, he told Barbados TODAY what the company was aiming to offer fell “a little bit between the legislation that currently exists”.
“We are in talks and we have been in talks with the Central Bank of Barbados for a good while on how the environment can adapt to this kind of technology that is being brought to the market, technology that has clear benefits both from the consumer perspective and right up to the central bank level,” he said, adding that it would be up to the central bank to determine the regulations that would govern digital financial services.
Adams said he was confident the digital money wallet would help to solve some challenges Small & Medium Enterprises were facing, including having to wait for cheques to clear and high bank fees.
“There is no delay using our mMoney wallet and mMoney application. It is the same as handing over a $20 bill to somebody next to you. That frees up cash flow and improve liquidity,” he said. (MM)