The Adrian Loveridge Column – No Local ecommerce Product for Small Businesses

Adrian Loveridge

After going through a seemingly complex ‘hoops and hurdles’ experience that certainly could not win any user friendly awards, I just wonder if our ‘local’ financial institutions have not missed out in a massive way to assist small businesses to grow and attract additional foreign exchange earnings for the country.

We recently tried to set up an e-commerce platform to allow payments of relatively small amounts (under BDS$200 per transaction) to be paid online by credit or debit cardholders. Of course we approached a conventional bank, but the documentation required was simply beyond anything that could be deemed reasonable and even if we took the hours required to amass all the requested prerequisite items, it then still needed an in-person visit to the branch, despite being a customer with that bank for years and our accounting history and identity was known to them.

Secondly we tried with PayPal, but that required a third party merchant to process the transactions. Almost at the point of giving up, one more try with Canadian based Shopify and while this was not without its challenges, I have to say that was countered with a customer service response that must stand out as a global model for many organisations to imitate.

Shopify was founded in 2004 by the owners of an online snowboarding store who sound like they were then having the same challenges as us. In 2010 Shopify started a ‘Building-A-Business’ competition in which participants could create a business using its ecommerce platform. The winners of the competition received cash prizes and mentorship from entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group) and Eric Ries, author of The Lean Start Up. Recently the company reported that it now has more than 400,000 merchants with total gross merchandise volume revenue exceeding US$34 billion annually.

In 2015 the company went public with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange offering a share price of US$17. When trading started, the shares quickly reached US$28 or 60 per cent higher than the offer price. The IPO raised more than US$131 million.

Our larger companies here (Barbados) have their own established connections where financial transactions of greater proportions can easily be facilitated, but if we really want our smaller businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and flourish, the big banks need to look carefully at ways they can help this sector.

We can all understand that banks should not be in the risk business, despite the many revelations over the last decade or so, but there are insurable ways to mitigate any, if not all risk. If I recall correctly, there was an attempt to launch a mobile credit or debit card wireless processor locally, like the highly successful Square or Sum-Up, in other major markets, but have certainly not heard much more about it here. Surely, all the technology exists already with a major communications entity constantly boasting they have the most extensive and fastest coverage using fibre?

20 thoughts on “The Adrian Loveridge Column – No Local ecommerce Product for Small Businesses

  1. Why the focus on BIG BANKS? If they “were willing” Shopify et al would not exist. The solution will come from smaller outfits.

  2. It must be more expensive to do this setup outside of Barbados. Also with the forex crunch it mean local transactions will be paid in foreign not so?

  3. Mr Loveridge.

    Every now and again you come up with a nugget and, AS WITH ALL THINGS THAT ARE NUGGETS, the local gendarmerie and those who are visionless miss the whole effing boat.

    Observe how, even though your article is the first in the list on this blog, you have two submissions.

    I will hazard to say that you are not going to get more than 10 submissions here.

    I will remark on the comments of the “two armchair warriors”, that is what we are being called now.

    Northern Observer, defined by his very moniker, understands intimately what being in the north means to innovation and ingenuity.

    Given his substantive area of employ this is what he sees every day and consequently he posits quite wisely per your predeliction with BIG BANKS.

    The Honourable Blogmaster, though a wizard in the internet field, has uncharacteristically parroted the exact mindset that the GoB and the ministries and statutory boards tasked with this sector, and the local private sector would say IF YOU WERE TO approach them with this idea of creating a viable alternative.

    Here you are talking about what is a global fulfilment platform that would serve not only insignificunt Barbados but the entire needs of the caribbean and even the world yet the Honourable Blogmaster, a man who is not a slouch relative to these things gives this blinkered response about the foreign reserve woes of this likkle insignificant rock.

    I hinted at such a solution in another of your articles last week and Loveridge, de
    ole man jes doan hint bout dese tings heheheheheheh

    But again Loveridge, for you , and the others, this is “A Bridge Too Far” so you can expect this to die in utero.

    Yet this is why Travelocity and Expedia can

    (a) demand you lower your rack rate
    (b) demand 25% fees for their commissions and
    (c) raise the same rack rate that they onsell your hotel rooms by 110% and
    (d) demand that customers paying for accomodation at your hotel which they are listing, MUST PAY THE FULL RATE while booking on their site and that they forfeit 100% of that fee TO THE SAME EXPEDIA AND TRAVELOCITY in the event of traveler cancellations.

    But we love this Loveridge, you maybe less so than the rest of the Bajan Tourism Hoteliers, love to get foop like this, cause wunna like to serve these external platforms and pay out money to external masters while talking pretty bout shopify and Paypal and all the rest of these things.

    And contrary to popular belief Loveridge, it is not as hard as you and others make it out to be else DIGICEL would not have been able to set it up in their operations.

    • @Piece

      How is the observation not valid in a country that leaks forex at every turn? Why would the government support a setup where domestic oriented businesses operate a buy and sell that sees those transactions being settled in foreign dollars?

  4. How difficult would it be for the credit unions to create such a platform?

    If they saw the benefits,I am sure they could encourage the govt. on this.

  5. @ The Honourable Blogmaster

    Your premise AND THAT OF LOVERIDGE is flawed.

    And as i said before that of the GoB is welll let me just say that they are not even at the table.

    Loveridge has presented as usual the “I want a product for Barbados” simplistic and selfish construct.

    Because he is only looking at a bajan product i.e. selling BIM destinations and fulfilling that transaction in local or Forex currency.

    What is being sold? A tourism product/room

    Who is paying for it? A tourist who is domiciled overseas AND as far as I know the flow of money is north to south – from a foreign currency to this jurisdiction.

    Your suggestion limits that concept to a government which characteristically DOES NOT PARTNER IN ANYTHING but like your man Ronnie is promoting COMPETES WITH ITS CITIZENS!

    THe IDB has millions of dollars sitting in a grant loan programme for sustainable SIDS initiatives which not one bajan proposal has qualified for.

    The true construct of a partnership would obviate your simplification of the issueand move us from the traditional perspective which you voiced which is ” why would the government support a local business to do blah blah blah…” to “it is in the interest of the government to enable and partner with Loveridge-led consortiums BECAUSE they would be entitled to 20 cents on every dollar made!

    But I would expect this from the members of the soon to be administration whose mouf giant espoused that government MUST COMPETE WITH ITS CITIZENS.

  6. @ Vincent.

    “Thar he blows again”

    Like Moby Dick you also preface your statement with a third party progenitor either being the government or, even more incredulously, the Credit Union,

    Which one are you talking about my man Vincent?

    Dem cant even get their act together to get a debit/credit card (yet? heheheheheheh) Lynette begging Cris to give dem som of IDB money so that she can lend it to she friends and here you are talking bout let the Credit Union champion this.


    You see why we are where we are?

    We continue to rely on the same old models of engagement which have failed us consistently and when they fail cry out “Oh woe is me”

    Yet Vincent you will tell me that “the electorate needs educating” but you adhering fast to the old models

  7. @ Vincent,

    I am not as good at good governance as I am at good governance systems.

    In that context I am superlative in my application.

    Do not think of that as ego, I am just stating a fact it is part of the eccentricity i am bleeagured with foremost of which I cannot stand a fool.

    Do not think that I can be goaded into engaging in anything Vincent nor will obsequiousness work.

    So now to your question, here are a few thoughts.

    I am going to be biased with these thoughts but you will forgive me for such as you read this prolix

    People’s ideas have to be respected in a manner that goes beyone Intellectual Property and patents.

    When a man/woman comes to the ministry to discuss an idea (which are as prolific as assholes) there must be a mechanism that is employed after the preliminary discussions occur.

    When the Israeli people came here a few weeks back Vincent that practice was not observes and them fellers came and raped the Bajan idjuts who went up to Sherbourne cap in hand looking for investments.

    That must stop Vincent therefore I suggest that a system wide online registry is established that (a) permits the online registration of a Concept Document that gives and overview of the submission. That document will perforce have to be denuded so as to safeguard the submission from public eyes but, like the abstract documents that the IDB publishes for its pipeline process, we will have a similar brief.

    This process among other things gives a “date of precedence” which , should there be any issues in the future will permits for an e-document trail.

    Concommitantly Vincent every physical file in government must be RFID tagged and an electronic registry created which will compliment the existing registries in each ministry so that WHEN a file goes missing you know the last officer who had it.

    You sign it out electronically and the chain of command is electronically noted/recorded. Police investigations and evidence cant go missing with systems which record who had the file and RFIF walled gardens will alert when unauthorized access is detected.

    Simple mobile apps Vincent to record Utility related issues – you water pipe busted – click a picture and it does send a GIS coordinate to the waterworks or light an power instantaneously and, in the even of it being a government department, when my lazyBWA ass arrive to the scene my component of the app clocks when i get there how long i was there what i diid while i was there and when i left de woman house at the end of the street instead of fixing your bust pipe Vincent.

    Mugabe Mottley wasted US$236M pun Edutech.

    My ingrunt self recommending that it is revisited in a meaningful way, as a pilot first, to harmonize and equalize our secondary school education system so that

    (a) My child at St George secondary who like kicking people daughter in dem head pun a video can interact with your daughter at Harsun College in real time pun a smart board that is connected by ubiquitous WiFi

    (b) So I doan feel dat you daughter mor privileged than mine cause dem earning de same ting irrespective of where yours is or mine is. So none uh we wives it got to go to de ministry and suck de minister venereal infected pooch to get a place at a “proper” secondary school.

    If you have a topic Vincent, I got a good governance improvement for it, I ent care what it is, I ent just a bright feller I am superlative, no ego to be served, we all going hope like Leacock.

    This is what facilitates real “growth” Vincent not whu dat idjut George Brafwit ranting bout, we need real options and interventions which work.

    So whereas government want to tax blood from we stones, it would be facilitating other untapped revenue streams INSTREA OF COMPETING LIKE YOUR BOY RONNIE says

  8. @PUDYR
    Digicel? Didn’t they buy a company built by two (then young) Bajans? Who proved it can be done, a small fish in a big pond, swimming circles around the whales.

    • Thanks Adrian, what is the current buy pattern i.e. locals and foreign purchases, do you have an idea?

  9. Mostly local and especially corporate Barbados using as incentives, staff rewards, customer appreciation etc. ideally we would like to process in BDS$ to avoid the 2 per cent FX surcharge.

  10. @ Vincent.

    Grenville lololol.

    No the man, though well intentioned, is clueless to realities of running a government.

    Vincent wunna now come to this “fray” to fight, de ole man been doing this for a while. He still in the theory phase and testing talky tings but dem things doan wuk.

    “Good Governance” whether you are assessing its administration, its HR or the systems being deployed is pure optimization of processes.

    Years ago a feller used to move a wardrobe in he house with 3 short cylindrical logs which you rolled forward and put the third log out front to replace the one that is soon to be “expelled”

    Along came the “sleepers” slim lightweight pieces of durable plastic that you place under the four corners of the wardrobe and you can slide it yourself.

    Magna Card?

    Does that sound familiar to you?

    Those things with magnetic stripes have been around for ages but you know something, it is outdated and like a domestic wine you grandmother used to make for Christmas, or like the Chefette brand which some say is a money laundering front, they are only built to be used in your “grandmother’s house”

    Imagine what an expanded Massy Card would have meant for Biometric IDs a la Barbados for all the Caribbean islands?

    But like Chefette, they are born to remain in BIM

    So when the Honourable Blogmaster David asks Loveridge about what his dated stats are for his Discover programme, Loveridge, bless his soul, can only say what his (manual) records give him, 2 or three months past the actual event.

    Imagine conversely rhe datamining possibility of a bespoke card that lets him know who did what where, to what degree, in what quantum and more importantly where that person came from?

    20 effing years later.

    That is where we are my man Vincent, 20 years later playing around with solar heaters while the UK now has a paint that generates solar energy and China has glass that does the same. and a black Ugandan now has lights that use a weight to generate electric power for 20 minutes.

    We ent ready and people like you enjoy wallowing in the joy of Grenville’s ISO fairy tale or “observing comment counts” which incredulously as it might appear to you HAVE BEEN FED BY YOUR DISCOURSE WITH ME

    Loveridge, bless his soul, writes about what his corner of the woods, tourism, is belaboured with and what he sees as a way to optimize input in that sector but I dun tell you that what he is seeing dimly through the Looking Glass is a Bridge Too Far for this electorate that you talking bout educating every single day.

    Leh me hear more bout whu you plan to do Vincent wid your Education plan…

  11. Piece

    Chuckle….ah dun tel yuh….leh muh noh wen yuh ready fuh a sensible(if posible) conversation…..yuh getting wusser dan dem 2 operatives rambling all bout de place.

  12. David, I think de old man Piece has met a cognitive declined because he going on like de medication in doing de job.
    Old boy whats going on? I don’t like the way you are at odds with every body on de blog these days.Yah like yah ten cent short of a quarter or someting?

  13. Dompy my man, how you?

    I see dat you drop the “e” in your name and i was wondering bout it.

    It be very simple de ole man recent stance, it is called “alignment”

    You evah had a pit toilet “back in de day?” to quote you?

    Depending on how big the opening was, during the day, when the sun was bright, you could cock your pooch and aling your botsie and drop missiles on the cockroaches in the pit toilet crawling over the faeces there.

    When you, or the Honourable Blogmaster or the Illuminati or any one uh wunna heah talk shy*te de ole man going line up meself over heah and dump a load pun wunna scvunt irrespective of who you may think yourself to be

    You unnerstan dat concept?

    De only body I got to please is de Almighty and all the rest of you is worm fodder like de Director of Public Prosecutions and like you and me going be in the blink of an eye

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