Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Senator Aubyn Hill is bullish on seeing a number of players in the productive sector embracing e-commerce in a matter of months and taking their business to the digital marketplace.
During a panel discussion on e-commerce at Expo Jamaica 2023, Hill announced that he had created a working group to develop the digital marketplace, a centralised platform where merchants and digital wallet users can interact with each other using the central bank digital currency, Jam-Dex, issued by the Bank of Jamaica. He added that the e-commerce platform will become even more relevant as other wallet providers roll out their products and more merchandisers are onboarded, facilitating financial inclusion of “new, young businesses”.
“We have various payment platforms in the marketplace now such as Lynk and Jam-Dex. However, there are still not enough people using them. One reason for this is that there are not enough merchants on them. I realized that there is no digital marketplace where all buyers [consumers, merchants] can meet easily on a payment system,” Senator Hill responded to Jamaica Observer question on the purpose of platform.
“The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce believes that providing the marketplace is the responsibility of the Government of Jamaica, as any marketplace developed by a private sector firm might not be acceptable to other private sector firms,” he added.
According to Hill, the working group tasked with creating the digital marketplace will include private sector and ITC experts; staff from the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce; Bank of Jamaica personnel; and other officials. He revealed on Saturday that he has tapped Lynk Chief Product Officer John-Matthew Sinclair to lead the working group.
Hill also pointed out that by using the digital marketplace some small businesses will reduce the use of the “middle man…who doesn’t have to be involved in your business anymore, and they get their money immediately when they deliver the goods”.
When asked during the panel discussion how the platform will resolve the issue of logistics, he argued that such a challenge will have to be resolved through both technology and relationships.
“We’re looking at the technology to overcome the logistics issues…We want to leapfrog the problem of logistics with the use of [the] technology,” Hill explained.
He added, however, that the community on the platform will play an integral to “police” the logistics issues.
However, Ian Neita, managing director of Yello Media Jamaica, another panellist, pointed out that some merchants were facing challenges meeting the know-your-customer requirements. In this regard, he asked how the minister would address the issue.
“The banks will look at that. If it becomes too onerous, we have ways with the central bank to look at it,” Hill responded.
According to Sinclair, the aim of the new platform is to provide a platform for underserved merchants, who do not have access to processing debit and credit transactions, to exclusively use Jam-Dex as a means of exchange. The digital marketplace will also facilitate merchants advertising their products.
The project is a public-private partnership that will involve wallet providers and banks that will issue Jam-Dex, Jamaica Promotions Corporation, Bank of Jamaica, the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce. Amber Group Limited, another partner, will be responsible for designing and developing the web-based platform and possibly an app for digital marketplace.
When Sunday Finance asked which partner will be responsible for managing the platform, Sinclair replied, “We have not discussed the operationalisation of it but it would be run by either Jampro or the Ministry [of Industry, Investment and Commerce] directly.”
Referencing a question on logistics integrity of the platform raised in the e-commerce panel discussion, he disclosed that the website integrate a delivery management system and that Jamaica Post has been enlisted to provide logistics service. While he said Jamaica Post won’t be the “exclusive” logistics provider, Sinclair said the government agency will be a “first mover” using its ZipMail service.
The platform should be operational by the beginning of summer, the Lynk manager said.
Source The Jamaica Observer