WiPay proposes partnership with Social Development Ministry for grant distribution

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WiPay chief executive officer Aldwyn Wayne –

WiPay CEO and founder Aldwyn Wayne says the company intends to send a proposal to Social Development and Family Planning Minister Donna Cox next week for the establishment of a public-private partnership to distribute grants.

He said the organisation has secured a $1.2 million grant from US bank Colour Bank to assist government in implementing the programme.

At a media conference at WiPay’s Picton Street, Port of Spain office on Thursday, Wayne said the initiative would pose no risk to the government financially.

“WiPay would fund to the tune of $1.2 million, the development of the application, the rollout of the hardware to all participating locations, the training of staff, and the management of the system until the government sees fit to acquire it.

“This proposal is non-committal so that at the end of the pilot, if accepted, the government can choose to continue the programme or not. The value, the reason for WiPay putting this proposal on the table, is so the government can get a first-hand look of what technology can do to help eradicate flaws that exist in our distribution programmes across all ministries.”

He said Colour Bank is a new bank set up in the US specifically to cater to diaspora communities. He said Caribbean passports could be used to open accounts without the need for a social security number.

Wayne said, after a report in a daily newspaper on bribes and illegal transactions in the ministry, he saw the opportunity to offer additional value to the government. He explained how it would work.

“The ministry provides the names, phone numbers, and ID cards or whatever unique indicators they may have. Once that is entered into the system, a unique code is generated for that person and that person only, and it is sent to their phone free of charge.

“When they visit any one of the participating grocery stores, gas stations, supermarkets, they would scan the code at our WiPay terminal there, and the ID card or other unique identifier will pop up.

“So I can’t take your phone and use your grant because your face will pop up, so that’s the validation we will have. Once you make that payout, you sign on the screen. That’s now logged in the system and the ministry can see immediately that you received your grant at the store. The store will then submit their list of payouts to the ministry.”

Wayne said the government would deposit the grant money into a custodial account, and once a grocery sends its accounting, WiPay will initiate an automated clearing house payment from the custodial fund to the grocery.

He said businesses should be more willing to participate in the programme as this method should eliminate the customary delay in receiving payments from the government.

He said the company had implemented similar programmes in Grenada and Jamaica and, to his knowledge, there had been no incidences of fraud, bribes or illegal transactions.

He said, in TT organisations and initiatives such as Living Water, Court Pay, and the police service have been successfully using WiPay programmes for years.

Asked whether he thought the government was more likely to accept these solutions now when there had been pilot programmes since 2020, Wayne said during his appearance at a joint select committee meeting on Friday last week, both government and opposition politicians seemed ready to accept the technology, and he has had several follow-up conversations.

Wayne said previously, WiPay had encountered challenges in implementing systems in ministries owing to misunderstandings about the role and services the organisation offered as a fintech (financial technology) company.

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