KINGSTON, Jamaica January 27, 2022 - JIS - Prime Minister Andrew Holness says Jamaica is poised to become the financial hub of the Caribbean. He noted that the country is increasing its technology in the financial sector with several e-commerce innovations, the National Identification System (NIDS), and the digital currency.
Speaking at the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s 17th Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said Jamaica has a well-run stock market, and government policy is supportive of the development of the capital markets by providing a stream of assets and economic opportunities in which capital can invest.
“All of this is possible because the Government’s management of the economy has created confidence, certainty and importantly has lowered transaction and political risks to business," However, for Jamaica to grow, there needs to be more than just a liquid capital market that is willing to invest; a greater emphasis on innovation is necessary," said Prime Minister Holness.
“We need innovators, people who are able to envision things that don’t exist and create them,” said Holness. In this regard, he pointed out that the government is investing in the education system to create these innovators. This includes the planned investment for the establishment of 6 new STEM schools and one new Performing Arts school.
Notwithstanding, he warned that "this great potential for the Jamaican economy to become the financial hub of the region, exists within a very fragile social context. Holness noted that if business leaders and society as a whole, are not mindful of this context, that potential could be lost."
He observed th the pace of transformation in Jamaica’s banking sector, as it relates to digitisation and the infusion of technology, necessary as it is, is causing some fallout among consumers, particularly those in rural communities, and among seniors. He urged banks to increase engagement with their traditional customers to ensure greater financial inclusion for more Jamaicans.
“More work needs to be done as we transition our financial industry to being more technology based,” the Prime Minister said. He encouraged members of the banking sector to ensure all customers particularly rural residents are included in the transformation process as services become more digitized and more technology based.
He said while young people who are technology natives, will be able to navigate the updated systems, older persons must be given time to absorb and adapt to digital changes.
Prime Minister Holness noted that financial inclusion must not only involve getting persons into the banking system and armed with a bank account; it must also ensure that those who are already in the system are adequately supported and know how to use the technology. To this end, he said there is a significant need for engagement between the commercial banks and its traditional customers.