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Lasco Financial targeting remittance clients with digital channel and rates

Lasco Financial Services (LFS) has launched a two-pronged attack to gin up its business in the remittance market, a mainstay of the Junior Market-listed company’s operations.

Using a marketing campaign dubbed ‘Simplify your life’, the company wants to target remittance customers who can tap into the convenience of going online to send money to loved ones via their LASCO GOLD Visa prepaid card.

The new card has been a big success and Managing Director Jacinth Hall-Tracey says LFS is doubling down on its runaway success.

Since the official launch of the card in July 2022, customers have loaded over $2.2 billion, according to Hall-Tracey. Significantly, two-thirds of the amounts loaded happened since April 2023, with over $1.5 billion loaded.

Hall-Tracey says that in the two years since the launch, the uptake of the card from the public has exceeded every expectation.

Still, the success of the roll-out of the card could potentially mean less customer traffic at LFS agent locations.

Hall-Tracey says while this is a good thing, LFS has to be true to its mandate of catering to the unbanked and the underbanked in Jamaica, who form a large part of remittance customers. She says that in light of this reality, LFS is also trying to entice customers to their agent locations.

“We’re also doing a campaign to drive customers into the remittance locations. We’re paying higher rates than other MoneyGram agents for customers who send directly to Lasco and pick up cash,” Hall-Tracey told the Financial Gleaner.

She says that bgiven the changing landscape of the remittance business, where carriers are pushing more digital options, the move to cards represents a change in operations. This, she feels, may affect local remittance agents.

“As remittance companies evolve to do more digital options, it is a risk to the current agent structure which relies on remittance as an ongoing business type,” she said..

Hall-Tracey says the promotion of the Visa Gold product operates in tandem with the push to draw customers to over 70 of LFS’s agent locations across Jamaica.

“Since November, in special collaboration with MoneyGram, whenever the person sending selects ‘send to Jamaica, pick up at Lasco’, we pay that customer a higher rate than other agens in Jamaica,” she noted, adding that LFS has given up a part of its margin on wealth transaction as a means of giving back

The effect of the promotion, according to Hall-Tracey, is that customers are rewarded for their loyalty to LFS. Having been drawn in by the higher rates for cash remittances, customers can register and receive a card immediately with a valid ID and TRN.

Customers can also use the LASCO GOLD Web app, create their profile and request a personalised card, which is convenient for both Android and Apple mobile users. A portion or all of the remittance can then be loaded to the card.

The introduction of the card means that LFS has had to give up some amount of its revenues derived from money transfers. Remittance companies collect a margin on foreign currency transactions. Hall-Tracey says LFS is prepared to forego this revenue as it scales up its remittance business.

Apart from revenues on foreign currency transaction margins, the real charges are administered on the sender. The fee to send direct to the card is actually less, with MoneyGram charging about US$1.99; while the average fee to send cash is US3.00-US$5.00 on average, and may go to as much as US$10.00.

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