Fri | Aug 23, 2019

Three vying for PATH mobile payments contract

Published:Friday | May 17, 2019 | 12:30 AMAvia Collinder - Business Reporter

Three e-payment companies have been shortlisted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for the contract to begin distributing social welfare benefits via mobile wallets, under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education, PATH.

The new payment option is due for rollout in August.

PATH benefits are distributed bimonthly to vulnerable Jamaicans, who are unemployed, underemployed, fall below the poverty line, or are otherwise needy. Currently, the welfare payment arrives as a cheque in the mail or by cash card, with funds transferred to the card electronically. Mobile transfers will add to the payment options.

In November 2018, the Ministry of Labour advertised for service providers to undertake electronic/automatic payments on a bimonthly basis to 284,000 Jamaicans who are beneficiaries of the welfare programme, and three firms are now in contention for the contract.

“The names of the firms cannot be provided at this time as the procurement process has not yet been concluded and contracts negotiated,” Project Director Elsa Marks Willis said this week.

PATH’s budget was due to be increased this year from $16 billion to $20 billion.

Willis says the labour ministry plans to hold information fairs with the shortlisted providers in Manchester, Clarendon and St Catherine in the latter part of June, which will include the participation of some 3,000 PATH families.

The procurement process is to be finalised for the payments to begin in August, the project director said.

At last report, there were only four licensed mobile money providers, namely National Commercial Bank Jamaica/NCB Quisk; GraceKennedy Payment Services/GK MPay; Sagicor Bank Jamaica/Sagicor MyCash; and Alliance Payment Services Limited/ePay.

The labour ministry said that by choosing to go mobile with the cash grants, it aimed to promote financial inclusion, improve administrative efficiency, reduce costs and ensure greater accessibility by social welfare recipients in rural communities and other areas.

The winning bidder must demonstrate a capacity to transmit funds to recipients immediately on receipt, and offer 24-hour customer service, but will not be allowed to charge beneficiaries for the service.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com