Mint Electronic Payment Services (MEPS) is a subsidiary of Mint Technology and latest member in its newly formed Group of companies. MEPS was launched to complete the offering range of Mint Technology by providing the Point of Sales (POS) Network to facilitate payments acceptance and collection. This will allow for the cash payment of bills and services and prepayments for mobile telephones. When it comes to convenient, ease of access, and familiarity factor nothing beats the store next door. Understanding that all consumers have a local place to go for their day to day small purchases is crucial, especially in a region where big supermarket chains represents 40% and below of the market. This is one of the reasons why current POS Network operators in the GCC are competing to secure a vital market share of small supermarket and groceries, which account for almost 60% of the retailers market in the region. MEPS commissioned a leading Consultant in the UK to investigate the potential of setting up a Merchant acquiring function in the UAE with the intention of rolling out 75,000 to 100,000 terminals in to the small stores that many of their payroll customers and the general unbanked population in the UAE use for their weekly shopping.
From this base they can then expand into other areas such as Travelex type operations, local taxi cabs, small shops and restaurants etc: This infrastructure would also provide MEPS with a platform to support Mobile Mobile top up and Money Transfer as the two main additional functions.
The one thing that has become very clear from this study is that there is a very significant opportunity in the UAE and other markets for an Acquiring function focused on the low paid and unbanked foreign workers who make up at least 75% of the population in this market. These people are not able to afford the costs of Visa and MasterCard cards but overall have a combined purchasing power to make a very profitable acquiring business.
This requires a combination of factors that we believe MEPS is in a position to offer in a relatively short period of time. These are:
An own brand chip card, based on the UAE proposed Purse card, for the foreign workers A terminal that provides purchases, top up and remittances as a minimum set of functions in the shops where
these workers buy their weekly requirements. There are around 150,000 of these merchants in the UAE. New charging structures, for terminals, that appeals to these merchants. A flat fee per month for the terminal is recommended as opposed to the Card Scheme Merchant Service Charge (MSC) and interchange structure that charges on a value and volume basis.
The opportunity to address remittances is also enormous; the people using the terminals in the small traders described above are exactly the same people who remit vast sums of money back to their countries of origin, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and The Philippines, on a weekly and monthly basis. The network infrastructure provided for the terminals should be linked to the national switches or in country partners linked to those switches in the countries in question. This would provide the basis for a cheap and efficient way but profitable mechanism of transferring remittances around.
Overall the combination of, placing terminals in the shops used by foreign workers, the outsourcing of ATMs and terminals and the support of remittances is the basis for a very profitable business model.
This combined terminal and processing model is eminently portable to other markets in the Gulf, Africa and the countries of worker origin mentioned above. Its value to organizations such as the World and Development Banks must not be underestimated as banking the unbanked is one of their main mantras at this time, and they could provide valuable assistance to MEPS in the expansion of the service in other countries.
However what is also very clear is that the Acquiring project needs to start as soon as possible within 2011 if that is possible. The pressures and opportunities in the market mean that other organizations are looking at the areas we are covering and if we do not move with speed then we stand the chance of losing any advantage we have.
As one of the leading merchant services providers, MEPS will offer the most comprehensive service in the GCC.
The merchants who enroll will gain access to the following benefits:
- Acceptance of prepaid cards and international credit and debit cards including Visa and MasterCard
- Online real time processing and authorization of transactions
- Flexible end of day cut off time to accommodate each individual business' close of business day
- Instant end of day reconciliation reports
- 24x7 merchant helpline
- Field sales force providing proactive and personalized service
- Mobile recharge & Top-up eVouchers, (fixed recharge and variable amount denominations)
With a wide range of Mint products utilizing the MEPS POS Network merchant in the GCC will consider MEPS as their preferred POS service providers. The consumer expectation and loyalty is the driving factors for the owners of retail business no matter the size of their operations. Capitalizing on that MSS can introduce the right blend to satisfy both targets, utilizing the consumer as a demand factor to capture more merchants and expand its Point of Sale Network.