Walking around with cash is becoming less of a necessity on island with more options for digital payments coming on the market.
Currently, residents can use their Bank of Montserrat mobile banking app to send payments, wire transfers and transfer funds between accounts. Their ATM card can be used in more than 40 local businesses, including government offices such as the Post Office and Customs.
Now, two more options will make it less burdensome for people needing to transact business.
Last Friday, Serra, a digital wallet was launched at the Ministry of Communication’s & Works’ ICT Expo. Created by Manish Valechha and partners, Serra has finally received approval from the Financial Services Commission to operate here.
Visitors to the Expo were able to see a demonstration of how the money wallet works and to download the app, which is currently awaiting approval to be available in the App Store and on Google Play.
“We had a lot of interest at the ICT Expo. A lot of our supporters have been following our journey since our initial public appearance at Bizcon 2019, and now they are excited that we are finally live,” said the tech entrepreneur.
Also at the expo were representatives from the St. Patrick’s Cooperative Credit Union who spoke about DCash, which is scheduled to be officially launched on Tuesday at the Montserrat National Trust.
DCash will be a digital EC dollar that has the same value as the physical notes. The new currency will be piloted here over the coming year as the Eastern Caribbean Central Banks works to understand how each member of the currency union adapts to the use of the digital dollar.
Valechha said he is not concerned about having both Serra and DCash coming on stream at the same time.”
“What a lot of people don’t know, is that we are actually DCash agents,” revealed Valechha. “This means we are managing DCash value-based wallets for ECCB. These wallets are for people who do not have a bank account or those who choose not to sign up with their financial institution.
“We fully support what the ECCB is doing with DCash. We share their vision of bringing financial inclusion to everyone,” added the tech entrepreneur who is also a co-founder in Montserrat’s first software development company Lavabits and also Rovika, which has created popular applications such as Talypso and ExcoTrack.
“Initially, our products might look similar but payments or transferring money from one place to another is the foundation of any financial system. All other services run on top of this core service. In the near future, we will be empowering users further with choice, with other modern financial products/services, and insights into their financial well being.
“Either way, this is great for residents of Montserrat as they will have more payment options to choose from depending on their financial needs. The Serra app and the DCash are independent of each other. You do not need to have one to use the other. Nor do you require a bank account to use either,” he added.
The Serra app will allow you to track your expenses. It will also enable the generation of QR codes for customers to make invoice payments seamlessly, once they use the service. The benefit of DCash is that it can be used to make payments to anyone within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union without any transfer fees.
Right now, you can sign up for DCash in two ways. By entering a code given to a user by their financial institution. For Montserrat, these institutions would be the St Patricks Credit Union or the Bank of Montserrat. Or secondly, by on-boarding yourself. Through this method a user needs to submit their legal name and other details, upload a picture of their government issued ID, and a picture of themselves.
You can register for early access to Serra at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Fn50NFDRyYOhA05O_STjxof1bqGSjoG_49RNJOcYY8E/edit