By Sue-Ann Wayow
BORN and raised in St Augustine, Trinidad, software developer Simon Fortuné, now living in the US state of Minnesota, founded PESH Money Ltd to provide e-money service to local citizens.
Founded and registered in 2017, Fortuné describes the company as a small Fintech company that finally made a breakthrough with the recent authorisation by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) to conduct e-money transactions. TSTT was also granted permission.
He is also making it clear that the company does not provide cryptocurrency.
In a social media video being shared, the National Transformation Alliance (NTA) Director of Youth Progression Dr Kevin Sarran raised questions about the company as “nobody has ever heard of PESH before.”
“This is a company that will now be transacting millions and possibly billions of our money, so of course we are going to want to know who is this company,” he said.
AZP News contacted Fortuné via email who said, “It is definitely fair that not many persons in Trinidad and Tobago have heard of PESH as we are a start-up and could not start operations prior to the CBTT approval. It was a major milestone we’ve been working toward for quite a few years now.”
According to the Companies Registry of Trinidad and Tobago, its address is listed at St Augustine, date of incorporation December 27, 2017, with an active status.
According to the Central Bank, “PESH is a privately owned local company incorporated since 2017. The company aims to provide customers with e-wallets to facilitate the storage of e-money and allow peer-to-peer transfers and payments to merchants in Trinidad and Tobago.”
PESH on its website states that Trinidad and Tobago banks are supported and persons could “Simply select your bank, enter your account number, and that’s it.”
It also promises that all banking information is encrypted.
In a media release published on Monday, Fortuné gave a historical background of the company.
He said, “We landed on the name ‘PESH’ as it is a Trinbagonian term for money, and it set the direction for how we wanted to develop the company. As a start-up, we could not be more excited to achieve this milestone and be one step closer to providing digital wallet services to Trinidad and Tobago.”
The release stated that CBTT’s provisional registration enabled PESH to publicly launch its website and social media channels, however, there were additional regulatory requirements the company was now working to meet before launching its mobile apps for iOS and Android later in 2023.
The Central Bank issued provisional registration to the PESH Money Ltd and state-owned TSTT authorising them to conduct e-money transactions in Trinidad and Tobago from March 1, 2023, for an initial six-month period.
According to PESH, the company met with regulators at the CBTT in 2018 and learned that a legal framework needed to be put in place for private companies like PESH to issue electronic money. In 2018, the ability to issue electronic money was limited to banks and other financial institutions.
In August 2020, the E-Money Issuer Order (2020) became law. This provided the legal framework for private companies to issue electronic money in T&T, not only for digital wallets, but in place of other physical currency such as physical gift cards or coupons.
As a new fintech CEO, Fortuné said this legislation was a big step in opening the doors for the industry and creating opportunities for new services for Trinidad and Tobago.
Since the law was passed in 2020, PESH has been in the application process with the regulators at the CBTT, working to meet their stringent requirements around financial and application security, privacy, anti-money laundering, compliance, and many other categories. Upon meeting those requirements, PESH was granted the six-month provisional license on Feb. 1, 2023.
Fortuné said, “As a new company, we intend to earn and keep your trust. We’ve brought more than a decade of finance and software development experience to the platform and have invested in making Pesh safe, secure, and easy to use.”
Speaking further with AZP News via WhatsApp on Tuesday, Fortuné said with his long career in software development, he wanted to provide a service for Trinidad and Tobago which did not exist before.
“It was a long journey to get to this end,” he said.
When asked what was his link to Trinidad and Tobago Fortuné responded, “The link is that I love my country and wanted to develop a service for Trinidad and Tobago similar to those used here daily.”
He also shared that the company has five directors including himself, three of whom are based in Trinidad and that he travels to Trinidad fairly often.
The company’s website www.peshmoney.com has a message from Fortuné.
His message states, “We started PESH with the vision to make person-to-person financial transactions easy, quick and personal. With PESH, our goal is to build the most secure and user-friendly digital currency to enable users of all ages and backgrounds to send and receive payments easily.
“Aligned with our commitment to environmental sustainability, we also wanted to provide a completely paperless service so you won’t see paper vouchers, plastic cards or need to use physical cash. We couldn’t be more excited to be on this journey with you.”