MIAMI, Florida — GCS International, a regional company specializing in the management of mobile payment systems based in the Dominican Republic, unveiled plans Wednesday to expand its tPago platform to Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Puerto Rico.
GCS has reached agreements with local partners to enter the new markets, which will be responsible for deploying the service. In Puerto Rico, that task will be in the hands of Evertec.
Some 300,000 mobile phone customers in the Dominican Republic, where tPago has been available since 2010, currently use the service, GCS International Executive Chairman Manuel Alejandro Grullón-Hernández said during a news conference in this city.
“The excellent acceptance tPago has had so far proves the region is ready to adopt mobile payment tools that are easy and safe,” he said.
News is my Business was one of only two Puerto Rican media outlets that covered the announcement.
Through tPago, subscribers can use their mobile phones to pay bills, transfer money from person to person, pay for retail purchases, recharge cell phone minutes, and process cash advances from credit cards, among other operations.
On the technical side, tPago is based on the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data transfer protocol used by GSM mobile telephones to deliver the information. The platform does not need a smartphone to operate, can be used on any phone that works with GSM, does not require Internet connection, and does not consume monthly minutes.
Over the past 12 months, the tPago service has gained significant ground in the Dominican Republic, growing its customer base by 57 percent. The 300,000 active users represent 16 percent of the neighboring island nation’s banking customer base. The tPago platform processes 600,000 transactions a month, and a total of 10.8 million transactions worth more than $69 million since its launch.
“tPago is one of the few mobile payment platform that can effectively show that it is operating successfully in the region,” said Brian Paniagua, CEO of GCS International/tPago. “The excellent acceptance of the service proves that the region is ready to adopt mobile payment tools that are easy, simple and secure.”
In an aside with local media outlets, Carlos Ramírez, executive vice president of Evertec, confirmed that the tPago service will be deployed in Puerto Rico during the first quarter of 2013.
“We just signed the agreement with tPago to launch the service that has yet to have a name. It will be the same service, but will not necessarily carry the ‘tPago’ name,” he said. “It will work the same way, and we believe it will catch on quicker than in the Dominican Republic because the banking ecosystem already exists.”
Because the tPago system is designed for people who already have a relationship with a bank, Puerto Rican consumers who hold an ATH-branded debit card will be able to opt-in to the service when it is deployed, he said.
On the island, three out of the five wireless providers — AT&T, Claro Puerto Rico and T-Mobile — offer services based on a GSM platform. Ramírez confirmed Evertec will be negotiating with the carriers, as well as Puerto Rico banks that issue ATH-branded debit cards, to start building a customer base for the future service.
There are about 2 million ATH-branded card holders in Puerto Rico, he said.