Interview: Virgin Money’s CEO, Andre Hugo – The benefits of going cashless

Virgin Money’s CEO, Andre Hugo
Virgin Money’s CEO, Andre Hugo
Virgin Money’s CEO, Andre Hugo
Virgin Money’s CEO, Andre Hugo

Want to send, or request, money? Add a recipient. Enter an amount. Press send. Boom. It couldn’t be easier.

Virgin Money has launched a peer-to-peer payment app called Spot. The app lets you transfer funds from your linked bank account to a friend’s linked bank account, but without the fuss of swapping banking details, as it uses mobile numbers for identification.

IT News Africa had the opportunity to have a chat with Virgin Money’s CEO, Andre Hugo around the benefits of going cashless for merchants and consumers, and the rationale behind the rise of peer-to-peer (P2P) payments.

What brought about the innovation of Virgin Money Spot?

Today, the current payment system is built around merchants and companies. The reality is that payments are more social than that – they are between people. We wanted to find a way to make paying or collecting money from friends and family simple, easy and secure. Spot makes paying people as easy as sending a message, the app also addresses the growing global trend of a cashless society. Cash is expensive to draw and unsafe to carry, and consumers are looking for greater security and convenience.

How is the app used as a tool to drive the increase in cashless communities?

The social nature of Spot means that it’s driving an increase in transactions between peers. There’s no need to draw cash to pay friends or collect EFT details. And though Spot’s Group Pay feature, we’re starting to see the emergence of small cashless communities, like sports teams, book clubs, or any group that regularly collects payments from its members. Group Pay allows users to create groups of friends, just as you would in a messaging app, to manage payments for any occasion – with full transparency on who’s paid, pending or declined.

What are the benefits of going cashless for merchants and consumers, and the rationale behind the rise of peer-to-peer (P2P) payments?

The benefits of going cashless are clear: cash is more expensive than you think, and it’s not safe to carry. If you draw cash four times a month, you could be paying up to R65 in ATM withdrawal fees. That doesn’t sound like a lot – but leave that R65 in your bank account, at 0.5% compound interest per month, and after four years you’ve saved R3,516.36.

A Mastercard study released last year suggests that accessing cash through formal channels – ATMs, branches, and remittances – directly cost South African consumers R9-billion in 2015, with a further R14-billion in indirect costs associated with transporting, managing and accessing cash. We see P2P payments growing rapidly as increasing numbers of consumers opt for the ease, convenience and security of going cashless.

Virgin Money Spot_Download_Infographic

Are there any challenges that you foresee going forward, with the app disrupting the traditional banking environment?

We’re seeing opportunities as much as challenges. Right now, the entire banking industry is evolving rapidly in response to consumer demand for quick, easy banking solutions. Our challenge is to innovate as much as we can from within a system that has traditionally focused more on merchants than consumers, and there are real opportunities to bring value to consumers by using technology in new ways.

What sets you apart from other payment apps?

We’re all about social payments. Everything we do starts and ends with the needs of peers in mind. We don’t just offer payments: we have Group Pay and Request pay features, making it as easy to collect money as to pay. We’ve made payments as easy as sending an instant message.

What type of security measures do you have in place to secure customers’ data finances?

Spot uses 3D Secure to link all cards, which means all users are verified and greatly reduces the chances of “card not present” fraud. In addition, all transactions require a pin for approval. We also don’t store any of the card data on our end – that all happens with our payment gateway provider.

Search for the Virgin Money Spot app in either the Google Play or the Apple Store.

By Neo Sesinye
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