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UTech, Sagicor develop Swifpay mobile wallet

The University of Technology Jamaica and Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited are partnering on a mobile wallet that’s first to be tested on the university campus.

Depending on the receptivity, a decision will be made later on whether the digital wallet, called Swifpay, will be offered to the general public.

The prototype was developed in the Sagicor Innovation Lab at UTech in Kingston and unveiled in the final week of June.

“After the payment platform is piloted on the university’s campus and the research outcomes around mobile adoption are realised, the joint decision will be taken by UTech Jamaica and Sagicor on commercialisation,” said Ray-St Michael Williams, director of the Sagicor Innovation Lab.

“The SwifPay research pilot for now will be available to the UTech Jamaica community in the upcoming semester,” he said.

The Swifpay app is described by Williams as a product that merges extended virtual realities with traditional banking practices.

Swifpay functions like other payment apps.

But: “It is significantly different because it was built with a SMS first strategy, meaning that users can use SMS to sign up and to transfer money without ever having to download a mobile app,” said Williams.

“Additionally, it has third-party APIs that extend the service to other applications that want to integrate a payment service – which is what makes payment from the metaverse or extended realities possible,” he said. An API, or application programming interface, is a set of defined rules that enable different applications to communicate with each other.

Sagicor entered into partnership with the Innovation Lab within UTech’s Faculty of Engineering and Computing, aiming to focus on “emerging and cutting-edge technologies and their seamless integration into traditional business processes, leading to transformative advancements across multiple industries”, UTech said. The partnership began in 2019.

The lab will target Swifpay initially at students and young professionals, saying that grouping tends to be “tech-savvy and prefer seamless and convenient payment solutions”, but it will also focus on the unbanked population as well as “the technologically challenged”.

“SwifPay’s ability to sign up and facilitate money transfers via SMS can cater to individuals who may not have traditional banking services or access to financial institutions,” said Williams.

“The SMS feature also ensures that persons who do not have access to a consistent internet connection, a smartphone or who are not tech-savvy are still included. This feature is ideal for wide-scale adoption and may even benefit implementations of JamDex, BOJ’s central bank digital currency,” he added.