Ecuador’s Exclusive Electronic Payment System: To De-Dollarization?

After 15 years of taking a move in improving its monetary system, Ecuador is again changing its payment transactions, now with the help of digital currencies.

The South American country’s new monetary system, which fully kicked-off last February, was the first-ever state-run electronic payment system. Last December, Ecuador’s Sistema de Dinero Electrico allowed qualifying users to set-up their accounts.

The Ecuadorean government took this action to address its stumbling currency for the US dollar. The system is also designed to support the country’s dollar-based monetary system.

Among the advantages that this new monetary system offers is that it serves as the cost-saving mechanism for the government. Moreover, economist Diego Martinez, a delegate of the President of the Republic to the Board of Regulation and Monetary and Financial Policy said that aside from helping the poor, mobile payments will reduce the amount that the government will spend for exchanging old notes to US dollars.

One of the few first steps that Ecuador took is trying digital currency in paying taxi fares. The Central Bank of Ecuador signed a deal last February, involving 60,000 members of taxi organizations to accept electronic money. After this initiative, users will be able to select services and pay through mobile transactions. They can also send money between individuals. Later this year, the third phase of the electronic money system will allow users to pay for public services through mobile payment.

Ecuador’s new payment system does not require internet connection to be able to have successful transactions. Also it can be redeemed as physical money, and users will be able to make payment using their mobile phones and stored value on their accounts.

On the other hand, even the government cleared that digital currency does not aim to replace the existing payment system in their country, some professionals inside and outside Ecuador speculate that this step was taken by the government because of other motives. One of them is Mr. Lawrence White, Economics Professor at George Mason University. According to him, he found it reasonable for Ecuador to provide an exclusive medium for mobile payments. He sees this step as Ecuador’s maneuver to de-dollarization. He further explained that the government’s prohibition of Bitcoin last July is a proof that they have bigger plans, and sees it as potential move to exit US currency.

At the moment, the government still denies speculations that digital currency will allow Ecuador’s central bank to issue new money that isn’t straightly taut its U.S. dollar reserves.

Whether this step aims for de-dollarization or not, Ecuador took a major step in recognizing the advantages that digital currency is offering. This will surely have a large impact with Ecuador’s economy, positively or negatively.

Pros and Cons of an Electronic Payment System

During this highly technological age, cash is trying hard to compete with electronic money, since nowadays a lot of people choose to use their virtual wallets. Here, you will read about the pros and cons of using an electronic payment system.

It is plain to see that electronic payment systems have more advantages than traditional banking services. Let’s see:

  • Saves on time

Money transfer from one virtual account to another may only take a few minutes, whereas a wire or postal transfer may take a number of days. Besides, you have to spend some time to go to the bank or post office and wait in line.

  • Controls expenses

Even if a person is willing to control his disbursements, it can take a lot of patience to jot down all the expenses, and this takes up a huge part of the total amount. On the other hand, the virtual account comprises the history of all the transactions, including the store name and amount spent. Best of all, you can check it whenever and wherever you like. In this case, an electronic payment system works to your advantage.

  • Reduced loss and theft risks

You will not make the mistake of losing or leaving your virtual wallet behind, and it can never be taken by robbers.

  • User- friendly

All services aim to reach out to a greater number of audiences and so, their interface should be easy for users to understand. Moreover, users can always ask help from the support team since they work 24/7. You can receive an answer by means of the forums as well.

  • Convenient to use

As long as you have access to the Internet, you can carry out transfers anytime, anywhere.

After discussing the advantages that come with using an electronic payment system, it is essential to talk about its disadvantages as well:

  • Restrictions

In every payment system, there is a limit with regard to the number of transactions you can do per day and the maximum amount you can withdraw.

  • Risk of Getting Hacked

Risks can be reduced when you follow the security regulations. This is comparable to the risk of being robbed. The situation can get worse when the processing company’s system breaks down, since this may lead to the leaking of confidential information on the online cards, as well as its owners. Though some electronic payment systems do not launch plastic cards, they can however be involved in Identity theft scandals.

  • The problem of money transfer from one payment system to another

Most of the time, electronic payment systems do not cooperate with one another. If that is the case, you can use e-currency exchange services. However, it can consume a lot of time when you do not have a service you can trust for this purpose.

  • Lack of Anonymity

Since the database of the payment system stores all your transactions – like the name of recipient, amount and time – the intelligence agency can access all your information. Decide on whether that is good or bad.

  • The Need for Internet Access

When you have no Internet connection, you cannot transact on your online account.

Flexible Electronic Payment Solutions Benefits Both Provider and Patient

The current economic situation has the capacity to force patients to decide between discontinuing their routine healthcare appointments or making other payment arrangements. Possible solutions offered by healthcare providers include medical credit cards, or automated electronic payment plans (such as “auto-debit”).

Affordable, electronic payment plan options now play a vital role in the financial health of a practice more than ever before. With declining insurance reimbursement, patients are now personally responsible for a larger portion of their healthcare expenses.

Finances have become a barrier for many patients who are not able to receive the care they want and need.

Easing the financial burden for patients and making it easy for them to plan their budget with an automated electronic payment plan is essential, as it provides the opportunity for preventive care which will inevitably minimize the need for emergency care that results from lack of routine health appointments. It is much less costly for patients and society in general, if routine screening and maintenance healthcare is made fiscally available.

From the healthcare practitioner’s perspective, the predictability that comes with steady, recurring revenues from electronic payment plans is most important during times of economic uncertainty. If providers are completely subject to patient decisions on when to have their routine check-up, they ultimately lose out if a patient cancels due to an unforeseen bill or other such budgetary burden. Payment plans make sure that care is already budgeted for. With greater predictability of income, comes the confidence for providers to take control and better plan for the financial health of their business. For a sustainable system, both the needs of the patient and the provider must be met.

One of the primary benefits of being in private practice is maintaining control over patients and ensuring independence. Most private practices have at some time spent sizable amounts of time and dollars growing an organization and brand that identifies them. In most cases, communicating this brand to patients contributes to a significant portion of the practice’s marketing expense. Successful practices know the importance of converting potential leads into new patients to take full advantage of those marketing dollars. The ability of an office to convert new patients is greatly enhanced by offering electronic payment plan options that have the flexibility to fit into the patient’s budget.

Opting for partner companies who will assist providers in offering flexible, electronic payment solutions will ultimately lead to healthier, happier patients and goes a long way to strengthen and grow a practice.