Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 13th 2014 Contents BG6 NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt FEBRUARY 2014 • WEEK TWO
Eddy Devisse is enthusiastic. But
he s also wary. Devisse is in a
spacious and mostly empty room
at Infotech Caribbean s Port-of-
Spain offices to discuss the com-
pany s new mobile payment sys-
tem, Yooz, and he s got more to tell than he
Devisse, the general manager of Resonance
Caribbean, has a lot to say about the new system,
but he s got so much more coming down the
pipeline riding on the infrastructure that he
actually stops himself mid-sentence more than
once to say that he shouldn t be talking about
one feature or another yet.
Resonance began operations in 2006 handling
top-up distribution via non-banking point of
sale (POS) terminals.
In 2007, they became the first provider of
mobile point-of-sale terminals to the banking
It was the right product at the right time, and
the company had its entry point into the ticklish
relationship between the conservative banking
sector and an even more skittish merchant com-
The company now claims a network of 2,500
merchants and 250,000 consumers that make
use of their servers to manage purely electronic
Which brings us to Yooz, which began life as
a straightforward way of using text-based short
codes to top up your phone from a preset bank
Yooz uses Unstructured Supplementary Service
Data (USSD) short codes, a feature of GSM
phones which maintains a live, two-way con-
nection between the company s servers for the
duration of the transaction.
If you re receiving Facebook or Twitter updates
on a phone that doesn t have a data plan, chances
are its making the connection for those noti-
fications using USSD.
Resonance holds second place in the local
top-up market after entering the competitive
space late and began using the standard voucher
Two years ago, they began innovating in the
space with Yooz top-up, their first USSD prod-
uct.The company developed an existing platform
working with partners in the US, India and South
In 2011, the company won an Excellence In
Service Award from the TTCSI and in 2013 took
home an award for Best Use of Innovation in
Building on the top-up concept allowed Yooz
to expand the market. The banking sector had
become comfortable with the payment system,
merchants owned the terminals and it was time
to build on the infrastructure.
The next step for the company was launched
three weeks ago with a USSD-based payment
system that allows users already signed up for
the system or Republic bank customers to make
bill payments to Flow and Digicel. TSTT, T&TEC
and WASA are in talks to take part in the project
Other services to be offered on the Yooz net-
work include a digital wallet and basic banking
USSD is a live, secure system that links the
phone s SIM card to Resonance s server and
requires only a start code to open the connection.
It s straightforward, accessible on any phone and
only requires a potential user to sign up at any
of 55 locations, which include any Republic Bank
branch, any Flow payment location and any of
ten Digicel outlets.
"The global success story with mobile pay-
ments has been with top-ups," says Lorcan
Camps, CEO and marketing lead of Resonance,
"because most people have a me-too phone."
To meet that baseline technology requirement,
Yooz is both phone and platform agnostic. An
app for smartphones is planned for release during
2014, but it really just puts an attractive user
interface on a character driven technology.
Resonance hopes to position Yooz as the elec-
tronic alternative to cash for transactions like
buying cinema tickets or person-to-person pay-
ments, but Camps acknowledges that for most
casual in-person payments, cash will still trump
a system that calls for a bit of fiddling with a
It s in remote transactions---paying for some-
thing that s being arranged over the phone or
sending money to someone at an uncomfortable
distance---that Resonance hopes Yooz will find
Even the name of the service, a trenchantly
hip corruption of "use" seems to be hoping to
position the word in local street parlance, perhaps
inviting people using the service to urge friends
to "Yooz me."
It isn t hard to think of a social organiser run-
ning low on minutes while organising a lime or
a buddy hitting up a friend for a small loan at
a bar using the term as a cooler substitute for
the far more clinical "send me some money
"We want to reach the unbanked," explains
Camps. People who don t have a credit card or
debit card and tend to do most of their trans-
actions in cash.
To achieve more of their goals, the company
is working on improving and extending their
existing relationship with banks and even con-
sidering discussions with the Central Bank.
If it can push Yooz to the next level with the
cooperation of the local financial sector, a notably
risk-averse community, it hopes to extend its
capabilities to business-to-business transac-
Camps, who is also the CEO of Infotech
Caribbean, estimates that there s $100 million
in cash moving around the country on delivery
trucks and most of them are delivering goods
to shopkeepers based on how much cash they
have in the till to pay for restocking.
"Imagine if a shopkeeper can check his bank
balance, even request a credit extension with a
few commands and buy goods with Yooz based
on his business needs instead of his cash on
hand," he says.
The technology is also country agnostic. Res-
onance plans a roll out of its service in Jamaica,
Barbados and Guyana in short order and its next
step is to bring more customer engagement to
its business users.
The company already has a range of loyalty
cards deployed among some of its higher end
business customers but doesn t see the service
as something that s reserved for the credit card-
"There s no reason even the smallest business
shouldn t have an electronic relationship with
its customers, using polls and loyalty cards to
build its brand," says Devisse.
Yooz seeks more for users
Eddy Devisse, left, general manager
of Resonance Caribbean, and
Lorcan Camps, CEO of the company.
PHOTO: MARK LYNDERSAY
We want to reach the
unbanked. People who
don't have a credit card or
debit card and tend
to do most of their
transactions in cash.
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