Topping up a VISA card can be done by mobile phone or internet
The new agreement between Wing and FTB will enable people all over Cambodia to buy prepaid VISA cards and get them topped up electronically through Wing’s mobile payment system.
The agreement means that it is going to get much less expensive for people to send money to people even in rural Cambodia from anywhere in the world through Wing’s existing Cambodia-wide network by topping up the VISA cards from anywhere.
When Wing CEO Anthony Perkins needed to add Cellcard to the list of mobile operators that could be topped up through Wing’s service, he contacted Dan Felsing, who was then working for Cellcard and they became friends.
Since then, Felsing joined FTB, saw an opportunity and got in touch with Perkins about a possible agreement that has now come to fruition.
According to Perkins, Wing’s first phase of the project is to help FTB by making it possible for Wing customers to top up prepaid VISA cards and launch the VISA card offer to all 440,000 existing customers.
“Our customers can get a prepaid visa card that they can top up anytime through our Wing distribution,” Perkins said. “You’ve suddenly got access to 7,000 outlets nationwide. And the third part is a virtual VISA card. We are working directly with VISA, and FTB, which is the issuer of the card.”
Perkins says the advantage to the public is they don’t have to pay for the overhead of an international bank and decisions are made right here in Cambodia.
“This helps the National Bank of Cambodia which have requested Wing to get involved in international remittance,” Perkins said.
“Phase 2 is for Wing and FTB to launch a mass market prepaid VISA,” Perkins said.
In order to differentiate the Wing VISA from the FTB VISA, both of which will be able to be topped up by Wing, Perkins made an agreement with Rovio of Finland, the owner of the Angry Birds franchise.
“In Thailand, one card issuer did it with Angry Birds and ran out of cards,” he said.
Wing is targeting August for the launch of its Wing “Angry Birds” FTB VISA card. Meanwhile, they’re helping card issuer FTB with the added advantage of customers being able to top up their FTB VISA cards via Wing’s service.
With the hearty support of the National Bank of Cambodia, Perkins says the service will make it easy, especially for overseas Cambodians to send money back home to their relatives, even in rural areas.
“The National Bank of Cambodia is keen for us to do international remittance especially for migrant workers. There are Cambodians struggling to send money home and existing methods are so expensive.”
Perkins says Wing is talking to multiple partners like Western Union and smaller players to be involved.
“The end game is once you’ve got a VISA card it opens you up for international remittance from one VISA card to another which effectively gives you an international remittance.
“One of the key things about Wing is the ability to be dynamic and innovative,” Perkins said. “A lot of banks are slow moving technology-wise, particularly the international banks, because they use the same platform and the same processes in numerous countries that don’t necessarily accommodate the nuances of individual nations. Wing can move much faster on technology because of our local team, whether it’s mobile or online payment, enabling people to pay for goods online like a PayPal.”
Perkins said Wing is working with multiple banks on becoming the clearing system for any card payment through a Point of Sale (POS) terminal.
“In some cases banks might want to extend their POS network, so how about bank customers being able to use Wing outlets? The POS effectively becomes a mobile ATM that we can use for the banks.”
Perkins said ACLEDA, Canadia and ANZ have the biggest bank POS networks in Cambodia, consisting of credit card machines that banks issue to restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and other businesses that need to offer credit card payment facilities. He says Wing has as many POS devices as all the banks in the nation put together with some 7,000 machines now in operation for printing pre-paid phone top up vouchers.
“We are looking to take on bank POS networks either to run it for a bank, or to extend it for a bank,” Perkins said, adding that at least two banks have already expressed interest.
He believes the mass market VISA card with low fees will be winning strategy.
“By making it mass market we can harness our very large customer base and make our fees very microscopic and only five per cent of the country has a bank account. There is still a massive opportunity for people who are currently unbanked, and that’s what we are here for is to bank the unbanked, and give services to everybody in the country.”
Perkins said Wing strategy was set up to help the Cambodian people easily move money around, even in small amounts and for ordinary rural citizens, but that the same strategy applies to larger players.
“We were set to look after the little guy, but also by doing that, we are developing such cool products that they are actually relevant to the big guy as well.”
Perkins said people can open a Wing account for $2.50 and after that can have a zero balance and zero monthly fees, yet with the same security as a bank.
“Wing has the same security as a bank because the money does sit in a bank. You’re getting the security, and if you don’t use it, you don’t pay. It is safer than keeping it under the mattress.”
Perkins said Wing has already signed a deal with Tiaxa, a Chilean company that offers credit risk based on historical mobile phone top up records to issue small amounts of phone top up credit and is also looking into the possibility of small short term unsecured loans to its existing customer base in the future.
Even though ANZ sold Wing in November 2011, ANZ still holds the license and holds all of the Wing customer deposits, Perkins says the current agreement with ANZ is not exclusive, enabling Wing to also work with other banks.
“The current agreement with ANZ is not exclusive, so we can work with other banks,” Perkins said. “The National Bank of Cambodia has oversight of Wing, and we send the NBC figures every month, but we work very closely with the ANZ compliance team. We can be a bit more creative and dynamic and we have the ability to create new products and adjust to the market quickly is crucial to Wing. We are effectively a technology company and we employ our own Cambodian technology team. We’ve got a team of about 20 technology developers.”
FTB issues first VISA cards in Asia that can be topped up via mobile phone
OREIGN Trade Bank of Cambodia’s deal with Wing marks the first time in Asia that people will be able to top up their VISA cards with a mobile phone, making the transfer of money to Cambodia easier and less expensive than ever, from anywhere in the world.
The deal is an example of innovators in Cambodia being able to leapfrog to the latest technology, unhindered by existing systems – similar to the way cellular phones leapfrogged past land line telephones here.
Already an issuer of prepaid VISA cards for the last two years, FTB teamed up with Wing two months ago to take advantage of Wing’s distribution network to make prepaid VISA cards easier than ever to get in Cambodia, according to FTB General Manager Guy Anvanith.
“What’s powerful is for the first time we are connecting VISA, FTB and Wing, the whole of Cambodia will be connected to the financial services of the rest of the world,” Guy said. “Without Wing we would never have been able to reach a thousand outlets in a short period of time. That’s why we found this opportunity to work with Wing very timely,” Guy said.
“We are bringing a product that makes service accessible across the world to Cambodia through a formidable system which has developed over the years,” he said.
According to the agreement, FTB and WING will sell co-branded VISA cards through all 1,000 Wing Cash Express outlets and FTB branches across Cambodia. Cardholders will be able to top up their VISA cards at any of 6,000 total Wing outlets, just like they top up their mobile phones.
Wing will start distributing the FTB-WING co-branded VISA cards to the 1,000 Wing Cash Express outlets in August.
Guy says that FTB wanted to offer prepaid VISA cards that students, businessmen and travellers could get easily. He hopes Cambodia will soon be flooded with VISA cards.
FTB’s Project Director for Cash Card Distribution & Mobile Payments Dan Felsing, who has been working on the project with FTB’s Senior Manager for Card and E-Banking Ros Sokha since he joined the company three months ago, says you don’t even need a bank account or collateral to get the VISA card.
“This project puts Cambodia as a trailblazer of new technologies,” Felsing said. “It is FTB and Wing who are also both front runners in their respective spaces as market leaders. This puts Cambodia in first place. Even the US doesn’t have this. It is brought to you by a bank that is an innovator and a mobile money service that is also an innovator.”
The least expensive pre-paid VISA card can be obtained for $3 and can be topped up with any amount. Personalised cards come in two levels, blue for a minimum initial load of $500 and gold for an initial load of $5,000 or more.
“The $3 prepaid card is good for gifts and online purchases. You can also withdraw money for free at FTB ATMs,” Felsing said.
Currently, customers can purchase an FTB prepaid Visa for a minimum of $23. The $23 card comes with a balance of $20, with a $3 charge for the plastic, and is available in a few minutes at FTB branches or with select merchants. The blue and gold cards are available the next day, or in two hours if purchased at the FTB office where they’re produced on the corner of Streets 214 and 63.
To top up the FTB/WING co-branded cards using a Wing account, a customer needs to have balance in their Wing m-wallet. Customers then have the option of topping up their Visa from their mobile phone or with any Wing CashXpress agent using their 16 digit Visa card number and 4 digit WING pin number.
FTB’s Project Director Felsing had earlier worked with Wing CEO Anthony Perkins when Cellcard Cash became part of Wing.
“We had a close relationship and because of mobile money exposure, I knew what was possible,” Felsing said. “One of the things I thought of was why not partner with Wing if possible, and said hey, are you guys interested in doing something?” Felsing sent Perkins an email and the deal was done two months later.
“This was a case where FTB already had the product and in my mind it seemed like a very good fit, with what FTB had already built, and with what Anthony had already,” Felsing said.
Perkins meanwhile had already been talking to VISA, thinking along similar lines.
“We had been working with Visa as to how to do this and VISA said we needed a bank to back these cards and be the issuer. We knew that FTB was the only bank with prepaid Visa cards, which exactly matches our target customers,” Perkins said. “We’ve managed to throw all this together in two months.”
FTB’s General Manager Guy Anvanith gave Felsing the green light to make the link with Wing because both Wing and FTB shared the common purpose of reaching people who don’t yet have bank accounts.
“We are like two brothers that are targeted to the unbanked population. Just like Wing, we are trying to reach the unbanked by linking up Wing’s clients. That means this population has a possibility to do banking if they choose to and there are millions of people who can step up to do traditional banking. The other feature, in addition to accessibility to the rest of the world, is that you have a trust and safety feeling because you have a solid bank behind it,” Guy said.
FTB already has ATMs with biometrics technology, enabling people to access cash just with their fingerprint, as well as internet banking.
“In terms of technology with our product portfolio, we have ATMs with biometrics technology, we have internet banking and we have cards. What we were missing was a mobile link. By hooking up with Wing we have the fourth leg. The next step would be to make everything much easier to use. No other bank would have all these products,” Guy said.
“One thing that is really great about this is the minimal investment. It is just hooking it up. It is amazing, and all the systems are in place. Up until now, you have had plastic only confined within Cambodia. Visa makes it accessible to the rest of the world. From Long Beach California, somebody can top up somebody’s card in Ratanakiri and you can use all the ATMs in Cambodia,” Guy said.
Fees charged will be different at various ATMs, depending on the bank.
Guy said the philosophy was “pay per use”. Both FTB and Wing will make money by charging small fees on the transactions.
“Our conversations have been focused on not making the fees cost prohibitive,” Felsing said.
Wing’s largest transaction fee is $1.50 currently and Perkins says the fee for topping up the VISA cards is likely to be between $1.50 and $2, but is still being discussed.
An estimated $1 billion per year comes to Cambodia by transfers, with an estimated one-third of that amount going through banks and Western Union, according to Perkins.
“People also bring in bags of cash. Our vision is to replace cash wherever it is and the more electronic transactions we can do, the better. Fees for transfer from overseas to Cambodia will be way below existing channels,” he said.
FTB’s Guy says technology is moving very rapidly.
“This is a very power tool for us to reach a population we would not have dreamed of reaching without technology, which differs from brick and mortar branches. We are hooking up different distribution channels apart from the traditional. No one from the banking system here has cooperated from a non-bank institution. A lot of it has to do with trust, the understanding of technology, and how to control it.”
The Cambodian Government’s Ministry of Economy and Finance owns 10 per cent along with a local company called Ing Holdings which is related to the AZ group of companies that holds the toll road franchise to Sihanoukville and large real estate developments and has a 44 per cent of FTB and the rest is held by two private individuals.
“We want to open up banking to everyone, no longer a niche player,” Guy said. “We have seven branches, going to 10 by the end of this year. We completed an internal reorganisation last year and we have a retail structure in place,” Guy said.
New FTB branches will open in Central Market as well as Tuol Kork. Further branches are planned in Battambang and Kampong Cham.
Guy said a key for FTB was a very conservative way of managing the bank. Of the $400 million in deposits, $220 million is kept in cash.
“You can be sure that if you are a depositor, that you can get your money back anytime, in any amount. We provide safety to our customer and we have maintained a very strong capital base with more than $65 million in shareholder equity.”
Guy said FTB posted a 1.7 per cent return on assets and a 14 per cent return on equity, with 1.4 per cent of non-performing loans.
“We are one of the most solid banks in the country,” he said.
In an interview last week with Guy, Felsing, Ros Sokha from FTB and Perkins from Wing, Perkins said if a Cambodian is in Singapore and has children who need health care in Cambodia, he can top up a VISA card with his mobile phone with roaming, enabling his wife to pay the hospital bill.
“You can do transfers while you’re on the move,” Perkins said.
Guy said people don’t need to keep cash at home, but can just have a card.
Another part of the deal is Wing’s Point of Sale (POS) network, the largest in Cambodia with 7,000 terminals and plans for another 10,000 next year, for a total of 17,000 POS terminals Cambodia-wide.
“Wherever we can get people to accept a VISA card payment, we can provide more places where people can use these cards. One thing is keeping the money safe, but there is also giving them the opportunity to spend the money.”
FTB and Wing plan to issue the Angry Birds Prepaid Visa designs when the project launches in August.
FTB and Wing will share revenues on transactions.
“You’ll be able to use this card immediately and reload it immediately. We’re working on a merchant aggregator where their terminals are also Visa certified.”