Grace Kennedy wants hastening of money transfer laws

Sixteenth anniversary finds Bill Express  in `significant growth’ -Country Manager

Grace Kennedy Country Manager, Colleen Patterson has told Stabroek Business that the enactment of legislation to govern the operations of the local money transfer sector should be hastened in the interest of protecting an important service from the vulnerabilities to which it is currently exposed.

Local entities providing money transfer services currently operate under the Companies Act but Patterson said that the industry was still in need of laws to help to protect it against ruses that could result in customers being defrauded.

Patterson said that while she was not unaware that there had already been some movement towards the enactment of laws to govern the sector, including the preparation of a Bill which had gone to a parliamentary select committee, she believed that the increase, over time, in the size of the industry and its importance to Guyana, had made it necessary for legislation to be brought into force without undue delay.

Patterson told Stabroek Business that one of the issues that rendered passage of money transfer legislation an urgent necessity was the provision of protection for both senders and receivers of remittances from exposure to possible unscrupulous practices. She said that this was all the more important given the people-oriented nature of the money transfer business. Grace Kennedy is the local agent for Western Union, one of the largest international money transfer entities.

Last week, Grace Kennedy, which also owns and operates the Bill Express service in Guyana, celebrated  the sixteenth  anniversary of its operations here and Patterson told Stabroek Business that what had stood out over those years was the reputation which the company had earned for the high quality of its customer service. “We believe that the tremendous growth in our service is reflective of the quality of service that we have provided to customers,” she said.

Meanwhile, according to Patterson, the company’s Bill Express Service had experienced significant growth throughout the country. “The growth in the Bill Express service has been everywhere. We have just started a service at Lethem and we have experienced growth in Linden, Berbice and Georgetown among other places.”

Bill Express provides a collection service for the country’s three major utility companies – GT&T, GPL and GWI and Patterson said that an increasing number of people were favouring payment by Bill Express rather than making payments to the billers’ offices. “What we charge the customer provides an incomparable value,” Patterson said.

Grace Kennedy Operations Manager, Lisa Lewis said that she believed that the real value of Bill Express to its users was located in the role that it played as a one-stop-shop. “It circumvents the inconvenience of having to go to three locations to pay three utility bills and that is a tremendous convenience,” she said.

Apart from the utilities Bill Express also provides a collection service for DIGICEL, local internet service providers and local lending agencies.

Patterson said that Bill Express currently had other potential customers in the pipeline and that the company was on “a continuous search for new business opportunities. “Because Bill Express is a low-profit operation and in circumstances where there is a cost to each transaction we have to constantly seek ways of broadening our customer base,” Patterson said.

Meanwhile, according to the Grace Kennedy Country Manager the company continued to be satisfied with the service that it performs as the accredited agent for Western Union in Guyana. She said that the expansion of the Western Union service across the country had, in large measure, taken place in tandem with that of the Bill Express service.

Meanwhile, according to Lewis while Grace Kennedy remained aware of the likely challenges arising out of the current global economic crisis the company would continue to embrace its strengths which include providing a high quality of customer service.

While she is aware the company anticipates a challenging 2009, its focus will continue to be on providing effective customer service while focusing on enhancing its relationships with the communities that it serves.

Speaking just days after the company celebrated its sixteenth anniversary Patterson told Stabroek Business that what had stood out during Grace Kennedy’s tenure in Guyana was the progressive improvement in the quality of the service that it had offered to Guyanese customers coupled with the steady expansion of its services to embrace increasing numbers of Guyanese. And according to Patterson the people-oriented nature of the service that Grace Kennedy provides, renders it important that the company continue to invest in providing an ever higher standard of service for its customers. She said that this year Grace Kennedy would also be seeking to provide more support for community-based products including initiatives aimed at contributing to the furtherance of education in areas of need.

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