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Truly mobile commerce supports sustainability


Published: Jul 09, 2013

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I am a big fan of conducting business online, having more or less been forced to adapt because when I worked on Paradise Island I simply did not have the time to drive around each month paying bills. I have since encouraged friends and family to follow suit, but I am usually informed that they don’t feel like their bills are paid unless they stand in line and get a receipt in their hand. That is simply a case of what I like to call “Having nothing better to do with your time.”

Besides the fact that revelations of U.S. government spying by Edward Snowden and the ever increasing cybercrime do much to make people more skittish about their digital footprint than their carbon footprint, a thriving mobile commercial sector not only helps increase accessibility, it saves time, a bundle in transportation costs, makes record keeping a whole lot easier, and has the potential to be hugely instrumental in shaving our energy expense.

Just think about the many services that persons from the Family Islands still have to get by driving to the airport, taking a plane to Nassau, and then driving to the company or agency they wish to do business with. Do the math on the time and transportation expenses.

As you would expect some of our commercial banks are significantly worse than others at facilitating digital transactions but they shall remain nameless. Unfortunately a bit of trial and error is involved there. You also need to be mindful of the ever present bank charges and waiting periods for bill payments, so you usually have to make payments a few days before bills are due to ensure they are not late.

As a business person I find it quite useful to put records together for the accountants when it’s time to do financials. It makes paying bills and receiving payments a lot easier.

A fantastic example of the reach of truly mobile commerce comes from the African continent and in particular, Kenya, according to a March 2013 Bloomberg Business Week article. The process is simple, requiring no apps, no smartphone or Internet connection for that matter – a basic phone is used to pay bills and transfer funds from one person to another. With almost 82 million customers and a market topping $61 billion last year, developed countries are looking to find ways to get in on the action.

Barclays is apparently first out the gate with PingIt, a mobile-to-mobile payment service launched in 2012 with a consortium of eight banks in the UK trying to play catch-up.

As much as I might like to, I cannot lay this reluctance to use electronic banking solely at the feet of the banks or businesses -- consumers need a shift in mindset to realize that we have the most to benefit. Reduced fuel expenses and certainly time saved and better record keeping aren’t bad byproducts either.


• We would like to hear how this article has helped you. Send questions or comments to sbrown@graphitebahamas.com. Sonia Brown is principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd. and is a registered professional engineer.



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