Nov 4, 2010
TIO Networks launches cross-border bill payment service
By Robin Arnfield, News Editor
Vancouver, BC-based TIO Networks has partnered with IPP of America, Inc. and with iSend to provide U.S. consumers with a service enabling them to pay bills in Latin America.
TIO operates a network of self-service automated kiosks in the U.S. at which consumers can pay domestic utility bills and also send money to friends and relatives in Latin America. The money transfer service is operated in partnership with Nexxo Financial, which has 22,000 agent locations in Latin America where recipients can pick up their cash.
“We have kiosks in states such as Arizona, California, Texas and Tennessee, where there are a large number of Hispanic consumers,” Hamed Shahbazi, TIO Networks’ Chairman and CEO, tells Payments Business.
IPP provides retail electronic payment services in the U.S. to cash-paying customers, while iSend specializes in providing U.S.-to-Latin America electronic payment and cellphone airtime top-up services.
“Our new service is really a hybrid between our existing U.S.-only bill payment facility and our person-to-person money transfer service,” Shahbazi tells Payments Business. “A growing trend among consumers is that they want to have control over what happens to the money they remit to family back in Latin America. For example, they want to know that the money is used for a specific purpose, such as paying electricity bills, rather than being squandered.”
The service being offered by TIO Networks in partnership with IPP and iSend enables U.S. consumers to pay their Central and South American relatives’ wireless, cable TV, utility and other bills. It can also be used to top-up cellphone airtime for relatives in Central and South America.
Countries where the new service is already available include Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. TIO Networks says it plans to add other countries in due course.
Payments can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by inserting cash directly into the kiosk’s bill acceptor device. Once the cash is accepted, TIO Networks uses an Internet link to ensure real time connection to the customer’s account, with most payments posting the same day.
“Bill payments account for 99 percent of TIO Networks’ business,” Shahbazi says. “But we think that cross-border payments are a great extension of our business.”