What are the benefits of mobile payments, and how are these systems integrated into the financial ecosystem?
DR. MAHA BAHOU The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) owns 45% shares of JoPACC, and all banks operating in the Kingdom own the remaining 55%. This gives JoPACC a distinguished position in the market to develop and innovate digital retail and micro payments through different projects that support and ensure efficient and cost-effective implementation in alignment with all stakeholders' goals and lines of business. Currently, JoMoPay is managed and operated by the CBJ providing support during working hours. But JoMoPay is a 24/7 instant payment system, which requires round-the-clock support service. In order to provide the needed support, JoPACC is working to host JoMoPay on a cloud platform to be managed and operated by JoPACC's team, providing the market with a 24/7 service support using top-notch, high-performance technologies that provide high availability with close to zero downtime.
AMJAD AL SADEQ Network International Jordan (formerly Emerging Markets Payments) was established by five banks in 1991 with a small amount of paid-up capital. In 1999, the company began trying to take the country to the next level of electronic payments. Visa International also showed interest in the company and became a shareholder. The company started to really push electronic payments and began transforming the banks' white cards into branded cards. The journey continued, and between 1999 and 2011 the company grew in terms of its service offerings to the financial service providers and retailers in the country. As a result, we gained the attention of a private equity company in the UK called Actis, which had a fund of nearly USD7 billion and was instrumental in beginning the creation of the Emerging Markets Payment (EMP) Group. The journey of EMP Group continued until March 2016, when Network International acquired it. After the acquisition, Network International became the largest payment processor in Africa and the Middle East, with more than 220 financial institutions and over 65,000 merchant retailers being served by the group. The value of Network International and what it has delivered to the former EMP Group after the acquisition is huge. Together, we have established a vision for bringing electronic payments to Africa and the Middle East.
How can mobile payment firms and the central bank better serve customers in a digital financial services (DFS) ecosystem?
MB Globally, DFS are developed to ease people's lives through providing wide distribution channels, use cases, and interoperability. DFS in Jordan specifically have different gaps that are currently being addressed by all market players. These gaps start with the agents' network and its associated high costs; moreover, the merchants' acceptance and interoperability remain barriers to increasing the usage and adoption. JoPACC has initiated a unified agent interface (UAI) for all PSPs to move toward white label agents, in addition to working and following up with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor's initiative to implement rules for JoMoPay to enable an interoperable schema between all providers. Additionally, lack of trust remains an issue wherein people still believe that cash should be the dominant tool within their financial transactions. Thus, creating intensive awareness campaigns and financial literacy sessions together with all of market players is an important matter, as this issue affects all providers with the same intensity and severity. Creating use cases, including but not limited to merchant payments, bill payments, loan disbursement, and installment, need to be seriously addressed by all providers.
AS Network International is highly supportive in terms of hosting, managing, and developing channels to enable the necessary payment services. We are supporting the CBJ-backed electronic payment platform in an attempt to maximize the number of transactions. We have, for example, enabled connectivity for practically every bank in Jordan so they can transact on the platform. The main operators of the platform try to utilize kiosk outlets to help individuals develop a familiarity with digital payment platforms because cash is still the most popular payment form in the country. We have also started offering services through the point-of-sale (POS) terminals at our merchant locations. We have equipped large retailers with the necessary POS systems to support the platform and make it easier for clients and citizens. Furthermore, we have started to work with various consumer markets as well, because many people visit these outlets.