Gov’t Looking to Widen Financial Access for Vulnerable Persons

Story Highlights

  • Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the Government will be implementing improvements through the Financial Inclusion Strategy (FIS) to widen access to financial products and services for vulnerable persons.
  • The Minister was speaking at Thursday’s (May 3) launch of the Alliance Financial Services Limited (AFSL) prepaid MasterCard electronic retail payment facility at the Courtyard by Marriot Hotel, New Kingston.
  • He said that the Administration is of the “strong view” that financial inclusion is absolutely essential in promoting greater business efficiency, competitiveness and economic growth.

Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the Government will be implementing improvements through the Financial Inclusion Strategy (FIS) to widen access to financial products and services for vulnerable persons.

He said measures will also be put in place to enable micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to access capital with the aim of laying the foundation for sustainable growth.

The Minister was speaking at Thursday’s (May 3) launch of the Alliance Financial Services Limited (AFSL) prepaid MasterCard electronic retail payment facility at the Courtyard by Marriot Hotel, New Kingston.

Dr. Clarke said that financial inclusion allows individuals and businesses to have access to useful and affordable financial products that meet their needs and are delivered in a “responsible way”.

He said that the Administration is of the “strong view” that financial inclusion is absolutely essential in promoting greater business efficiency, competitiveness and economic growth.

“Ordinary Jamaicans and small, micro and medium-sized businesses need safe and regulated payment mechanisms in order to transact business, without which transaction costs go up and business efficiency goes down,” he pointed out.

Dr. Clarke said the Government has developed several impact indicators under the FIS to measure Jamaica’s progress towards achieving the World Bank’s goal of ensuring that all adults have access to a transaction account or an electronic instrument to store money or send and receive payments, by 2020.

One indicator is focused on increasing the percentage of persons using electronic retail payment by card, Internet or mobile device from 32 per cent in 2015 to 50 per cent, while another is to boost electronic retail payments done through the banking system from 33 per cent to 50 per cent.

Dr. Clarke said a third indicator is directed at increasing the number of persons with a transaction account, whether at a commercial bank or payment service provider, from 78 per cent to 95 per cent, adding that “it would be great if we actually go up to 100 per cent”.

Two other important areas are boosting the number of remittance agents and the percentage of direct benefit transfers, such as those paid under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), which are made using electronic payment products.

Dr. Clarke pointed out that there has been a slight increase in remittance agents from 422 to 425 since 2016/17, but said the number of PATH beneficiaries using electronic payment products was only 13 per cent in 2016. “That is a number that the Government is committed to increasing,” he said.

The Alliance Prepaid MasterCard enables users to access services such as mobile bill payment, electronic phone top-ups, payment at point-of-sale devices, and to transfer funds between cards.

Additionally, cardholders will be able to load their remittances safely and securely on to the card.

The product resulted from a partnership forged between Alliance Investment Management, through AFSL, and American entity, MasterCard Incorporated, through its Jamaica Country Office.

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