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Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the application of cutting edge technology, such as mobile banking, is a necessity if Jamaica is to compete satisfactorily in the global environment.
“Electronic commerce, electronic transactions and increasingly, mobile banking, are no longer new-wave buzz words, but they are today’s reality,” Mr. Shaw argued.
“These technologies are changing the way we do things, creating cost effectiveness and linking rich and poor countries alike to one highly, intensely competitive market place,” he added.

President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Joseph Matalon (left), speaking with head of the Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRI), Professor Terrence Forrester, at the Mobile Financial Services Conference 2010, at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston, on Friday (December 10).

Mr. Shaw was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Mobile Financial Services Conference 2010, at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston, on Friday (December 10).
He said that Jamaica’s high level of cellular penetration makes the development of mobile financial services an interesting proposition. A recent report published by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) showed that mobile services provided by the three main local mobile companies accounted for 2.8 million subscribers, with a penetration rate of 107.78 per cent.
“This must be the largest penetration rate anywhere in the world. This represents a tremendous opportunity to reach citizens in communities in the inner city and deep rural Jamaica, that have traditionally been excluded by infrastructural and cost constraints, which have prevented banks, and other financial service providers, from serving these areas,” he noted.
He also suggested that expanding financial services, through mobile banking, would assist small and large businesses, in dealing with payments in a more effective and speedy manner, as well as allow government benefits to be delivered more efficiently and, potentially, at lower costs.

Head of the Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRI), Professor Terrence Forrester (right), welcomes Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, to the Mobile Financial Services Conference 2010 at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston, on Friday (December 10). Seated at centre is President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Joseph Matalon.

“Mobile banking might aid in the process of assisting commercial banks to reduce their plethora of charges,” he also proposed.
He also noted that the advent of e-commerce and the rapid development of information and communication technology, over the past decade, have revolutionlised business practices across Jamaica.
He said it was critical to, not only expand access to financial services, but also increase accessibility.
“This means conditions and associated fees for accessing and using these services, through the mobile devices, must be easy and affordable enough to encourage ready adoption and use by ordinary citizens,” he suggested.
“I therefore urge you to keep at the forefront of your deliberations, the fact that the primary goal is to increase the delivery of financial services for the unbanked segment of the Jamaican economy, rather than simply providing another convenient channel for persons who already have bank accounts,” he told the conference.
The one-day conference was conducted by Solutions for Society, a think tank in the Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRI) and the Mona School of Business, University of the West Indies (UWI), in association with USAID Jamaica and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
It was held under the theme, “Exploring a shared services approach to the delivery of Mobile Financial Services in Jamaica”.
The forum brought together international and local speakers, with wide ranging experience in related areas of mobile banking and mobile commerce, with the key stakeholders and practitioners from Jamaica’s financial and telecommunications sectors, as well as policy makers and regulators.
Discussions also examined issues surrounding platform ownership/business models; regulatory framework; commercial dimensions and the economic impact of mobile services; technological solutions; and research agenda and strategies for implementation.
Key stakeholders, including major Jamaican financial institutions and telecommunications firms also participated. Other key participants included the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Bank of Jamaica, Development Bank of Jamaica, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Office of Utilities Regulation and the Financial Services Commission.