Augusta Holdings is one of the key international players in this field of financial technology and has already had considerable success in African where its prepaid smart card system is currently being rolled out and set to be used by millions.
The Welsh Assembly Government through the Single Investment Fund and Finance Wales, the Assembly Government’s investment arm, which has taken a 20% equity stake in the operation, is supporting their newly formed UK businesses - Augusta Systems Research and Development and Softech Systems.
The company’s decision to move to Wales is to take advantage of a potentially major market in the UK and Europe. The company is initially setting up a research and development team to drive forward the technology with plans to establish an operations support centre later on.
Marketing and Alliances Manager John Beer said the principles behind the Augusta prepaid card system are similar to the transition town movement where the aim is to keep money within local economies, to support local communities and local business.
"Instead of having a local currency like the Totnes or Lewes pound the Augusta system uses smart pre paid cards which give traders a mechanism to reward customers with loyalty vouchers or discounts.
"Prepaid cards also reduce the amount of money taken out of local economies through cash management fees and bank charges which are incurred when cash or credit and debit cards are used. Prepaid cards are particularly useful for paying for goods under £10 making them ideal for use in markets.
"We see a great opportunity to integrate the benefits of our system with existing smart card systems such as the over 60s transport card or bus pass which is currently used by 8 million people, London’s oyster cards and the growing number of local authority cards used to access council services."
Ieuan Wyn Jones, Minister for the Economy and Transport, said the software systems development work undertaken by Augusta in Wales would create high quality job opportunities for Welsh graduates.
"Augusta opted to open their new headquarters in Wales because of the support available to innovative technology led businesses through the Assembly Government and through our universities.
"I am pleased that Augusta has already established close links with both universities in Swansea and welcome this investment in a key sector and the potential for future growth."
Mr Beer said they are currently developing the inter-operability of their cards so they can be used in any town and are initially planning to run pilots in Norfolk, Suffolk and Liverpool.
Businesses using the system will be supplied with industry standard readers equipped with Augusta applications that will also enable customers to top up their credit at pay stations. Augusta is also looking at how their system could be integrated with the growing number of local credit unions.
Augusta is also one of the first companies to benefit from the Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarship (POWIS), which is managed by the University of Wales and provides funding for postgraduate students to work on research projects in Welsh businesses.
The scheme has enabled them to attract one of South Africa’s leading open systems architects to undertake key research and development.
Augusta has recruited graduates through ITWales and is also appointing a post graduate from Swansea University under a 20 week Knowledge Transfer Partnership designed to drive innovation in the UK by encouraging businesses to tap into the expertise in academic institutions.
It involves a three-way partnership between a graduate, an enterprise of any size and an academic institution. The programme part funds the employment of high calibre graduates or Associates to work with companies on specific projects that are vital for their strategic development.
16 November 2009