GCS m-payments arrive in Latin America

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The two principal banks in the Dominican Republic, Banco Popular and BanReservas, the major mobile network operator, the largest acquirer and billers including electric, telephone and cable companies are using the tPago (I Pay You) m-payments platform from GCS Systems.

Five more banks have committed to do so and the seven banks between them account for more than 95% of the market. A three month-pilot with the bank and mobile operato’s employees handled 500 transactions a day to top up mobile phones, send money to colleagues, pay utility bills and make purchases.

Commercial roll-out started July 21 with 6,000 customers.

TPago transactions begin when consumers press *150 to display a menu on their handset. GCS uses the USSD protocol and links in real time to banks, operators, acquirers and billers enabling subscribers with GSM phones to transact. Consumers link their phone to their deposit account for payments. Person-to-person payments can be phone number-based if the recipient has a GCS enabled account.

All transactions are encrypted. To process payments at a merchant, GCS adds a six digit International Standards Organization BIN in front of the phone number before sending the transaction to the acquirer. GCS is also offering bill presentment via SMS.

In the Dominican Republic, only 25% of the country’s 10 million people have a bank account, but there are 8.6 million mobile phones, three quarters of which are prepaid. GCS will launch a tPago prepaid card, linked to mobile devices, cobranded with the banks and Visa or MasterCard in the fourth quarter of this year

GCS brings banks, mobile network operators, and acquirers into a revenue sharing agreement. The company plans to expand to other countries in Latin America and recently raised $6 million in private equity to fund the first phase of the expansion.