The more we speak about Visa-Debit cards here in Trinidad & Tobago and I see some of the responses, is the more I realize we have so much work to do on our mindset and getting people to understand how crucial, something so simple really is. Plain talk bad manners, when it comes to e-commerce in T&T, we are like 10 years behind (but catching up). One of the key ingredients that will completely change the landscape in T&T will be the adoption of Visa-Debit cards by the banks. Seem a bit skeptical? Will let me break down how Visa-Debit cards will boost your business.
First off…I need to throw out a disclaimer, please do not comment or respond anywhere near this post about how you already have a prepaid credit card or a visa debit card (they are not the same product) with another institution, this post isn’t about you. Nor am I bringing this topic up with the sole purpose of consumerism. This blog is done from the standpoint of a business owner and what it means for business within the country. So if you have the urge to comment, “I already have JMMB”, congratulations, now run along.
With that said. Scotiabank, one of our major banks here in T&T, has finally started replacing their mag striped Linx cards with the new chipped Linx Visa-Debit cards and this is major news as there are some major benefits from the banks being mandated to switch to the new chipped Visa-Debit cards.
These new cards will now open up the market because one of the biggest problems we had for business was all of the hoopla we have to do to pay businesses or pay people online.
Currently, as a business owner, the credit card penetration rate is lower than 10% (this 10% includes people with multiple credit cards, so its lower than 10%) which means that, even though I have a website and can accept payments online, there is a small margin of people who can actually pay me via my website, which is by far the most preferred method any scaling business wants to get paid today.
Many business owners have shied away from building a website because they believe they wouldn’t see an immediate return from it because people can’t pay them. These new cards from Infolink, are Linx Visa Debit cards, that offer the security and benefits of the Visa chip technology. They offer the security needed to protect against skimming and they can be used abroad at a POS & ATM. They also have the benefit of using them online.
Now when every citizen with every bank has these new cards, they can patronize local businesses and service providers online with their regular cards. If you cannot wrap your mind around the term Visa-Debit, let’s just say that it’s your Linx card that can be used to shop online and uses the balance in your bank account.
The 2 biggest benefits of removing Linx cards and making the switch are:
- Added Security – Skimming of the Mag Stripe cards will no longer be able to happen. As you know, skimming has ramped up over the past 2 years, inconveniencing a lot of people. This is the #1 reason the banks have been forced to switch to Visa-Debit cards because they have failed international security mandates. This is great news because it’s forced their hand to make the change. Lord knows they would have never done it for any other reason.
- E-Commerce – With these new cards, they will provide you with the ability to now shop online without having to go apply for a prepaid credit card or a real credit card. You will simply be able to use your bank account funds to make your purchases online.
Scotiabank has officially rolled out their Visa-Debit cards, I went and upgraded both my personal and business account cards immediately. When I asked in the bank about the E-Commerce part of the card, they told me it was not activated as yet. However, that is only for international purposes. You CAN use the cards for local e-commerce, I have already started using it to make purchases and bill payments on local company’s websites.
So rather than doing an online bank transfer to pay for example my Digicel bill, using my Visa-Debit card, the purchase goes through right away and is updated immediately because it is treated as a credit card payment.
Now imagine, everybody has this ability to pay you immediately, we can now take advantage of impulse buys and if you have a website, now your business can far extend beyond your regular business hours. Most people do their shopping through the night, so now they can patronize your website and order from you, without having to speak to you.
Currently, with Droid Island, I have had to get creative with how I accept payments since not everybody can shop on the website. I offer the options of credit card payments, Wipay voucher payments, Paywise, bank deposits and online bank transfers.
All of those payments except for credit card payments require people to contact me or have them leave their houses to make a payment. Even when you post all of the various account details on your website, people still need to advise you that they made a payment and tell you what products they would like from you.
Using a credit card, your clients will simply select the items they want on your website, enter their new visa debit card info and pay you.
Everyday people who are selling on places like Facebook will now be able to register with Wipay or Zwillo, send someone an invoice for an item they are selling and they will then be able to get paid since the respective person can now pay them without having to use cash.
There are many companies locally you can use for logistics to move your products across T&T and if you are someone who provides a service or has an online business, I can’t stress how important the change from Linx to Visa Debit cards will mean for you, since anybody will be able to pay your invoice without having to meet up with you, send you a cheque or any of that. You can simply send them an invoice and they can now pay with their regular cards.
For all Scotiabank people, there is no fee or application to switch. Walk into your nearest branch with your ID card and old Linx card, tell them you are there to update your Linx card and they will switch your cards on the spot.
So again…This isn’t about who already has Visa-Debit cards or Pre Paid Credit cards…this is about every bank switching over and everybody in the country will be able to conduct e-commerce with you.
There is no greater feeling of waking up or checking your emails during the day and you get a notification that your items have been bought.
There is no official ETA on when they will flip the switch for the cards to be used for international purchases via E-Commerce but it is working at present for local e-commerce and that’s perfectly fine for me at the moment. You can use other cards for your international purchases but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
I have already paid my bills and tested out the Scotiabank Visa-Debit card on my own website and everything works great. So if you are a Scotia customer, go and upgrade your card. All the fees are the same, you will just have to learn about the fees and limits for how you can use the card when you are travelling abroad and need to withdraw money at the ATM or swiping at POS.
Those limits are $120USD/per day ATM withdrawals and $100usd/per day at POS. For local commerce, you can use up to $8000ttd/per day at a POS or online with a local vendor.
I hope this helped you wrapped your mind around why Visa-Debits are extremely important for us to conduct business in T&T.