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ScotiaBank’s VISA Debit Card – Jamaica’s Online E-Commerce Renaissance

Last year Christmas 2011AD must have left many a Jamaican in the New Year 2012AD dry as a bone, a financial state often expressed in the phrase “Tamarind Season”. With Ben Johnson Day aka the day before payday coming up on Thursday 26th January 2012AD, many a monthly salaried employee may be broke because they overspent on their Debit Card – or should I says Scotia VISA Debit Card.

This latest product from Scotiabank deserves honourable mention by yours truly, as like NCB (National Commercial Bank) KeyCard Cash PinLess Debit Card, it brings the convenience of Credit Card shopping to the lower rung employees who are not Credit-worthy enough to get a VISA, MasterCard or Discovery Card to do online shopping.

It also gets my nod, as the presence of VISA Debit Cards from ScotiaBank, which was a product launched back in August of 2011, is just in time then for many Jamaicans to experience the thrills and pitfalls of Online Christmas shopping!! It bodes well to for my suspicion that Amazon.com, as in the Fortune 500 company may soon be coming to Jamaica, using our faire isle as a beachhead to launch into Latin America made possible by low-maintenance All-Electric Vehicles from Porteon as alluded in my article Porteon heralds the coming of Free Local Shipping in 2012 – Amazon.com beckons.

At the time Monique Todd, Vice-President Marketing, Public and Corporate Affairs at Scotia Group Jamaica made much of the partnership with VISA to offer this product in a September 18th 2011 article in the Sunday Gleaner by reporter Avia Ustanny, quote: “This Card allows us to meet the demands of our customers by providing them with an option that offers greater security and acceptance at over 14 million locations internationally. We hope to attract more customers to Scotiabank due to the added convenience of the Card. It operates like a Credit Card but utilizes the funds of the customer.”

Some quick facts about the new ScotiaBank VISA Debit Card:

  • One hundred and thirty thousand (130,000) ScotiaBank VISA Debit Cards are in circulation, 25% of the 500,000 of the Proprietary Cards in Jamaica.
  • Three hundred and seventy thousand (370,000) unique Debit Cards are in Jamaica
  • The ScotiaBank VISA Debit Cards is being launched in 15 Caribbean Territories
  • 2% of transaction fee for Online purchases
  • ScotiaBank VISA Debit Cards can withdrawal their own funds from ATMs worldwide displaying the Plus, Visa or Visa Electron symbols, great news for the jet set.

Monique Todd gushed exuberant of the new product, quote: “The new ScotiaCard allows customers to shop online or by telephone accessing any location in the world; this is a convenience that the old ScotiaCard did not provide. Customers can access cash and services from over 900,000 ATMs and 14 million locations internationally anywhere the VISA sign are displayed. Additionally, this is a great way for parents to meet expenses of students overseas. If students have a Card linked to the parent’s account they can shop for books and school supplies at stores overseas using the parents’ account. For persons without Credit Cards this is a great option.”

Tell that to the persons who had tried out the service back in 2011AD for Christmas shopping! They are suffering now, but apparently relishing the experience as Scotia Debit is seeing an unprecedented uptake in their product. Again in January 8th 2012AD Sunday Gleaner quotes Tamiko Sadler, director of product development stating, quote “As early as October, we saw an unprecedented number of international transactions. There were 11,000 international transactions in October for Visa Debit”.

Thus armed with these glowing commendations for the Star Trek theme dressed employees of ScotiaBank and the advent of Tamarind Season, I, Lindsworth Deer on Tuesday January 17th 2011AD on my day off, I took some time off to change my Scotia Debit Card to the new Scotia VISA Debit Card at the Oxford Road Branch in Kingston, Jamaica. The process is a simple as a swap of Cards, with the minor hassle of a few hours standing in a line.

I did however get to chat with the sexy svelte (and obviously married!!) Bank Teller and in the process not only made her aware of my status as a blogger but also learned a bit about the whole process.

Basically, they use the old Debit Card to swipe and initiate the process. After updating their records with your information and signing at the “X” on several documents (people I am technician, not a banker, please see wid me, star!!), they destroy the old Debit Card and lo and behold a new Card that boasts the VISA logo is yours to spend off your bank account.

Wait!! Bank account? That’s right folks!!!

The VISA Debit Cards uses you funds in your bank account to make the online purchases, converting from Jamaican to US$ on the fly!! No wonder everybody want to have one!!!!

Effectively, the ScotiaBank VISA Debit Card is the equivalent of the Amazon.com Store Cards that are powered by Chase Manhattan Bank; you top up your account and shop online with the power of visa, just like a regular Credit Card enable with the power of VISA. In essence, a lot like a Secured Credit Card, even with an expiry date!

Even more interesting, is the possibility of using the Debit Card side of the Scotia VISA Debit Card to receive Merchant payments. As such, you can set up a website online and accept payments from Credit Cards via you PayPal Account and have the funds sent to your Debit Card Account side of the Scotia VISA Debit Card. Even writing freemium apps for the Apple iPhone 4S as described in the article Smartphones and Apps – Freemium Games are No. 1 is now a STRONG possibility!

No more cheques from PayPal that take three (3) weeks to clear, albeit the Bank Teller told me it usually is now down to ten (10) days!

So maybe Amazon coming to Jamaica to do Online Retail and Free 1-Day Shipping may seem a bit of a stretch, but rest assured, with Wireless Broadband Internet coming to the Caribbean as noted in LIME, Digicel and FLOW – Leading the Global 4G Adoption Curve, Online Shopping and possibly Online e-commerce, like Tamarind Season, is here to stay until Ben Johnson Day in January 2013AD.

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.

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