Ezetop enables expats to keep in touch with loved ones in Haiti

21 Jan 2010

Dublin-headquartered Ezetop, which works with 100 mobile operators worldwide, is enabling thousands of Haitian ex-pats to send mobile call credit to loved ones in the earthquake-stricken nation of Haiti.

The impact of the mobile phone on people’s lives in emerging countries cannot be underestimated, says Ezetop CEO Mark Roden, who says Ezetop’s technology functions as the Western Union of mobile top-ups.

Credit transfers

Haitian ex-pats living in the US, in cities like New York and Miami, he explained, are transferring credit to the mobile accounts of loved ones in Haiti in the hope of finding they are alive and allowing people on the ground to co-ordinate efforts.

The company has eliminated its usual margins on all Haitian transactions in the wake of the earthquake crisis.

“At the moment, thousands of transactions are going through from loved ones in the US. While the infrastructure is being rebuilt in Haiti people will be able to receive mobile credit from abroad throughout the period.”

Roden said the company has seen a massive increase in volume since the crisis began.

“We do this for over 100 mobile operators around the world and enable people working abroad to instantly send credit to friends and loved ones back home in their original country.

“What we’re doing, by delivering airtime to the people in countries like Haiti or Pakistan, is vital, especially for countries where many people don’t have access to bank accounts or credit cards,” Roden told Siliconrepublic.com.


Ezetop transaction flow

Mobiles in developing markets

Compared with the developed world, where mobile devices are taken for granted at this stage, in developing markets the mobile phone has been a major revolutionary force, giving people undreamed of power to communicate, do business and improve their lives.

“Operators like Digicel in the Caribbean and Central America, and Ufone in Pakistan, have made the mobile phone affordable to people no matter what their economic circumstances are.”

Roden explained that unlike money transfer services, the Ezetop system ensures that people don’t have to physically collect credit because the value goes directly to the mobile device in their hands.

“By being able to deliver value straight to the mobile phone, you are mobilising the individual and enabling them to go about their daily activities more effectively and make calls abroad more effectively.”

Roden set up Ezetop three years ago and the company now employs 40 people. Thirty of these are employed in Dublin, with a further five in Miami and five in Dubai.

He told Siliconrepublic.com that the company is in expansion mode and will take on a further 20 people in the coming year.

Roden said that Haitian expats are able to send the credit by logging onto the Ezetop website or by going in to partner retail stores in the US.

“We’ve been seeing a massive increase in volume in the past few days and the priority is that there’s a structure in place to help keep people connected and in touch.”

By John Kennedy

Topmost photo: Ezetop CEO Mark Roden

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years