arena in fine style
Potentially destined to become a household name, a little-known
start-up, VideoKall, scooped the International Association of Money
Transfer Networks’ (IAMTN) World Payments Award for Excellence in
Innovation at a ceremony held in London on 1 November. The US-based
technology developer received the award, described by the payments
industry body as a “benchmark of excellence”, for its VideoKall
video payphone-based electronic funds transfer service.
The service, which VideoKall said it had been “working in stealth
mode” to develop, will target unbanked Mexican, Filipino and Indian
migrant workers in the US. This will entail installing equipment in
shopping malls in several US states as well as in several cities in
Mexico, the Philippines and India.
As a concept, VideoKall impressed the IAMTN. At the award ceremony,
IAMTN’s CEO, Olga Maitland, said: “I recognised from the outset
that VideoKall was a technology which could really change the way
in which people sent remittances. I predict that much as YouTube
popularised video messaging, VideoKall will make video remittance
transfers a popular alternative for many migrant workers.”
The IAMTN was established in 2005 by payment industry players
including Western Union, Visa, Standard Chartered Bank and Credit
Suisse First Boston.
In essence, the VideoKall system utilises payphones equipped with
smart card-based electronic funds transfer technology and video
equipment that permits both sender and recipient to see each other
before and during the money transfer. To remit funds, workers in
the US will purchase smart cards to the value of the remittance and
then notify recipients abroad via a mobile phone text message of
when and where to expect a call.
To execute a remittance the sender inserts a smart card loaded with
value and keys in a specific amount to be transferred to the
recipient. The transmitted funds are, in turn, loaded onto the
recipient’s smart card, which is then inserted into a POS machine
to verify that the funds have been received.
VideoKall said that it believed the incentive for both parties to
visit a shopping mall at a predetermined time to make the transfer
is that the service offers “for the first time, anywhere in the
world, the opportunity for both parties to meet each other” through
the video payphone connection.
VideoKall stressed that its technology would also help counter
money laundering. This was thanks to features such as unusual smart
card use pattern detection, video monitoring and biometric access
control. When combined, they would provide authorities with
real-time access to the network and a tool to prevent money
laundering, explained VideoKall.
VideoKall said it was now ready to deploy a pilot network early
next year and various options to fund the roll-out of an initial
500 video payphones were being explored. Half the phones would be
located in the US and the balance in the Philippines, India and
Mexico. VideoKall is also in the process of identifying a suitable
international money transfer agent organisation to handle
back-office elements, including settlements.