The Green Sheet Online Edition
February 23, 2009 • Issue 09:02:02
eCommLink refocuses, targets global remittance
Corporate restructuring and a new global initiative by eCommLink Inc. seem to be evidence that the world is getting smaller, and electronic payments are helping to facilitate that trend.
The Las Vegas-based processor recently reported a reshuffling of its executive management, with the promotions of Ennio Ponzetto to Chief Executive Officer, Victor Newsom to Chief Operating Officer and Raymond Lu to Senior Vice President, Engineering. Not lost in the shuffle was the announcement that T. Jack Williams had relinquished the CEO mantle and taken the title of Corporate Development Officer.
According to Williams, the moves allow the company to maintain focus on its core domestic processing, with Ponzetto steering the day-to-day operations, while freeing up Williams to lead eCommLink into the global remittance arena by developing partnerships with corporate and government entities in foreign countries.
The transaction belt
In his travels and research, Williams said he came to the conclusion that global payments are the wave of the future. Of that worldwide market, Williams tapped remittance as eCommLink's niche because of its potential size and importance to individuals and economies around the world.
"We've tested the waters out there and we believe we are uniquely qualified with our relationships and our partnerships to bring a money remittance, money transmittal capability to many, many different countries," Williams said. Williams did not cite a specific annual dollar volume for global remittance, but said "it's a ton of billions." The market is made up of migrant workers across the globe that send substantial percentages of their take-home pay to their families in home countries. Williams said foreign countries encourage this behavior.
"I looked at what I call the transaction belt," Williams said. "And that's the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. And you go all the way around the world. And within that, and there are some exceptions certainly, but the vast majority of the countries that are in that belt export their citizens to other countries to work."
For example, Williams said the Republic of the Philippines has "exported" 15 to 16 million of its citizens to work in the United States and other destinations, and India has exported 22 million. Williams indicated foreign governments provide job centers, education and the means for their citizens to get jobs in other countries. But they then require their foreign country-based workers to send from 20 percent to 50 percent of their wages back home.
"Well, if the requirement is 20 percent of your income has to be sent back to your family, then that's raising the standard of living in your host country," Williams noted. "And so that means your family has more money to spend. It's all about economic survival."
Not only families, but entire countries count on remittance to stabilize economies, Williams said. "If you were to cut off the [remittance] dollars that flow into Mexico, it would wreck their economy," he added. "So, I believe that these countries support it because of the economic advantages that it offers."
A card-centric world
Williams explained that global remittance relies on two factors: payment cards and mobile phones. Within a matter of seconds, money can be transferred via mobile phones to just about anywhere on the globe, he said. But, in order to access cash from ATMs or pay electronically for goods and services at POS locations, payment cards are necessary. "I think that is one of the most misunderstood aspects of mobile payments," Williams said. "These people that say, 'Oh, we make phone-to-phone payments.' You know, I'm impressed. I think that's great. But people like to use
"I think that you're going to have to have a card. And the cell phone becomes an access device. The cell phone allows you to very quickly and instantly and conveniently move money from here to there, balance inquiry, transaction history. All those things can easily be accessed by a cell phone. But in this country, and I think the world, you will not be withdrawing cash from an ATM any time soon with a cell phone."
Hub of the wheel
To implement global programs, Williams said three players are needed: a financial institution, a program manager and a processor. In his travels abroad, Williams has found that program managers local to the countries or regions he visits are often the best choices to partner with eCommLink. "Each country has its own nuances, and so there's always a program manager in every country that we deal with," he said.
Williams' vision is that eCommLink will become the hub upon which the global remittance wheel turns. "Each country is a proverbial spoke on the wheel," he said. "And each spoke will be a program manager, maybe the same program manager for two or three or five or six of the countries."
Williams maintains that the global marketplace is migrating away from paper-based and toward electronic payments. "And every major country is looking at ways to make it safer, faster, more convenient for their citizens, either for their in-country use or international use," he said. "So intra-country or inter-country, the cell phone/card is going to become the new way of transacting business."
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