2007/05/09 – St. Louis, MO – Start-up communications company, VideoKall Inc. announced today that it has been working in stealth mode for some time with strategic partners on a video payphone-based Electronic Fund Transfer service called VideoKall for personal use and for migrant workers who have no bank accounts. The company chose to go public this week as their US and International patents pending for the VideoKall technology are now due for publication by the US Patent Office.
The VideoKall service will provide public video payphones in shopping malls in several US states where Mexican, Filipino and Indian migrant workers are frequent visitors. The service will include video payphones in shopping malls in several cities in Mexico, The Philippines and India. In the US, the company will also provide, in malls, cash loaders which dispense SMART cards for cash, and in the overseas malls cash dispensers which dispense local currency, when users insert SMART cards, loaded with value for transfer, during a VideoKall.
VideoKall Public VideoPayphone with SMART Card Electronic Fund Transfer facility.
VideoKall will uniquely provide migrant workers in the US with a state-of-the-art electronic fund transfer service which allows both sender and recipient to see each other on a video payphone before and during the money transfer. The system is designed for simplicity, and does not require the participants to have a bank account or disclose their name. The company’s web site www.videokall.com will contain a list of the locations and phone numbers of all the public video payphones in the network. Workers in the US will purchase SMART cards to the value of the remittance they wish to send abroad, and then SMS text message their relatives abroad to let them know the mall location plus the phone number of the video payphone and the date and time they will call. The incentive for both parties to visit a mall, at a predetermined time to make the transfer, is great because VideoKall offers for the first time, anywhere in the world, the opportunity for both parties to ‘meet’ each other through the video payphone connection, and also to transfer funds instantly during the video call, from a SMART card in the US video payphone, to a SMART card in the video payphone overseas.
The VideoKall service provides several options for the recipient to use the SMART card to receive the remittance. Where regulations permit, they can simply insert the SMART card in a VideoKall cash dispenser in the shopping mall to get local currency to the value stored on the card, or they can take it to a bureau of exchange to get cash, or use it in participating mall shops to purchase goods or services.
Vince Waterson, co-inventor of the VideoKall system, said “As someone who has lived and worked in Asia for many years I know only too well how heart wrenching it is for overseas workers and their dependants who are separated from each other for months and even years. VideoKall will provide the network that literally puts a face on that separation, and the ability to see each other during a fund transfer that will provide moments of emotion, which will stay with both parties long after the video call is finished. This is almost satisfaction guaranteed.”
Sixty-five percent of the 8 million overseas Filipino workers are women. Many of these have left their children at home in the Philippines to be cared for by relatives so they can work overseas. When they queue up at a Western Union office or a bank to wire home money, they never have the opportunity to see the very people for whom they have unselfishly toiled to provide food and shelter —- that is, until the arrival of VideoKall. VideoKall will provide a high quality video communications network which will enable a mother to see a daughter or a son they have not seen for months or maybe years, and at the same time allows funds to be transferred between SMART cards during the video call.
VideoKall, Inc. is a software/hardware design and development company with skills in telecommunications system integration. The company is working on the development of the new VideoKall network with two strategic partners —Aethra and ITC Systems. Aethra (www.aethra.com ), which is based in Ancona, Italy, manufactures the video payphone adapted by VideoKall to provide EFT services, and ITC Systems, (www.itcsystems.com ) a Toronto company, specializing in SMART card technology and associated billing systems.
VideoKall selected Aethra as their vendor of choice to provide the video payphone for the VideoKall service. Vince Waterson said “ Aethra has the Italian flare for design which is reflected in it’s video communications products. Furthermore as a family owned company its management is very accessible and we were able to get the kind of support from Aethra that start-up companies can only dream about. We are very pleased to have Aethra as our strategic partner.”
Campbell Richardson, CEO of ITC Systems is also a supporter of VideoKall. “When Videokall approached us with this new concept, we were quick to see the tremendous upside to the technology. It embraces our SMART card technology and manifests it into an application that all of us in this industry have been attempting to envision for years. The combination of SMART card technology adapted for EFT and video communications is pure genius.”
In London at the headquarters of the International Money Transfer Agents Association, the association’s CEO, Lady Olga Maitland expressed her enthusiasm for VideoKall when she said, “I have been kept informed of developments of the new VideoKall EFT service which I think is simply brilliant. As the leader of an association which is dedicated to improving the movement of funds across international borders, I immediately saw the tremendous benefits, both socially and economically, which VideoKall could bring to the millions of migrant workers toiling around the world.”
VideoKall will be showing a pilot network demonstration to interested investors in June, and expects to start rolling out the network by the end of the year. The company is also seeking additional partners overseas who operate shopping malls who wish to participate in what promises to be a high-value communications service.
The VideoKall management team includes Charlie Nahabedian, a veteran AT&T engineering and marketing executive, and Dave Sturgess, CEO of a UK electronic design and development company, and co-inventor of the VideoKall system. Vince Waterson is also VP of business development at Hawaii Pacific Teleport which will provide the VideoKall satellite links to connect video calls between shopping malls in the US and initially Mexico, the Philippines and India. Hal Turner, a past senior executive of BellSouth, is an advisor to the Board of Directors.
ITC Systems, www.itcsystems.com is an international company specializing in cashless Integrated Transaction Control Systems. The firm designs, develops and implements state-of-the-art cash card management systems on university campuses and in public libraries, government departments, food service environments and other closed institutional settings. With offices in Toronto and St. Louis, and an extensive network of distributors, dealers, agents and service contractors, the organization offers the most flexible and comprehensive online and offline card systems on the market today.