#BrandLove | Credit where credit is due.

Last night, I felt my heart swoon as I experienced some serious #BrandLove here in Trinidad and Tobago. Want to know why? Let me give you a teaser? What do T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile and our very own, bmobile, all have in common? These three mobile operators offer their customers a pre-paid VISA credit card. Yeah, you heard me. bmobile has jumped into the mobile money arena along with Republic Bank, CellMaster and, of course, VISA.

Mobile money as a phrase, first graced my eyes when I lived in London and worked heavily in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, where the unbanked statistics were alarming. Millions across the globe just didn’t have access to financial services. Mobile operators saw this as an opportunity and soon began to offer financial services to their consumers in emerging territories through mobile technology. Countries all over Africa go East soon had financial facilities provided to their citizens through their mobile phone allowing them to send money to loved ones, make online purchases, pay their bills and access resources such as healthcare and education for their families. Can you see how empowering this is? bmobile now gives its customers the same opportunity through its sexy, new VISA pre-paid card – the first of its kind here in Trinidad and Tobago.

So last evening, we huddled in a swanky room (decked out by Audaz Events! My girl, Sasha!) at TSTT House on Edward Street and witnessed the reveal of this mobile milestone here in Trinidad and Tobago. The audience included an intimate mix of the brands’ top execs, RBL and VISA top dogs, celebrity endorsees, Advertising Agency and Media peeps and … well … me.

By the morning-after (i.e. today), bmobile proved that it wasn’t just a one night stand. There was follow up! Website updated. Information on application process etc. The FAQ’s quickly tell me that all it takes is two (2) valid forms of identification and a utility bill. No job letter (A blogger is considered a proper job, right?!?!!?). And you can apply through bMobile and Republic Bank branches and the card top-ups are accessed through these outlets as well.

So yay! Another credit card (albeit pre-paid) to put in our wallets. As a brand strategist and the self-acclaimed Brand’s Brand, my question is, how does this benefit our small and medium businesses who compete with … well … everything available internationally online, when it comes to the might dollar of the even mightier Trini? How can local businesses remain competitive with this new channel that makes it easy to send our dollars offshore?

Day in day out, I speak to the small and medium businesses that I feature through my brand, and they all say they want to take their business online to make it easier to get their products in the hands and hearts of their consumers.

Tessa Haskwell, owner of Caboodle Gift Shop on Long Circular Road and a customer of Republic Bank and bMobile, is in the process of taking her shop online and sees the bmobile pre-paid VISA card as a step in the right direction for small businesses like hers.

“As a small business with limited resources, I’m always on the look out for new ways to spread the awesomeness that is Caboodle Gifts. For me going online is a no brainier, not only will I get to reach a larger customer base that a fixed location by definition restricts, but also to build the store and by extension the Caboodle Gifts brand as a modern business service. Having Republic Bank as a partner in this regard gives me a sense of safety knowing that my brand is in the right hands with knowledge, expertise and support at my fingertips,” said Tessa.

She added, “As a business owner I’m never off the job, which means I need access at all times to the Internet and of course, my smartphone. bMobile makes that possible. So to see these two brands come together with a solution that is going to further support my customers when they purchase Caboodle gifts online is just fab!”

So TTChatterbox is happy that her brands are happy, but will all this dreaming come true? Do bmobile and Republic Bank accept the challenge of helping all things local get in on the online fun too?

Fresh off the stage last night, I cornered both Ronald Walcott CEO of TSTT (bMobile) and Derwin Howell Executive Director of Republic Bank and they both agreed this is new card will show their commitment to the small and medium business segment by providing an innovative solution that drives business heir via the web.

“We already have products and services in place at Republic that allow any business, small, medium or large, to accept credit cards online. This plays right into that,” said Howell.

bmobile’s CEO Walcott spoke about the eco-system as a whole citing “it is as much a part of this launch as anything else and this is really geared towards small and medium enterprises here in Trinidad and Tobago in a big way. A large part of this for us will always be our small and medium businesses here in Trinidad and Tobago.”

So there you have it. Some innovation here on the 868 to make our local businesses stronger while also giving us the access to what’s on offer on the whoooooollllle world wide web. It’s all about balance and in the world of brands I always applaud brands across the globe that get my attention but it’s the brand genius #spotted here at home that remind of why I do what I do!

Oh! And that lamb!


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