Jamaican conglomerate GraceKennedy Group is pumping in a further J$250 million into its mobile app called GK ONE given its commitment to digital transformation and the fact that it has been gaining considerable traction in the Jamaican remittance market since its launch in November 2022.
This additional capital is being invested over the next six months and would bring Grace’s total investment in the app to J$1 billion. To date, Grace has spent J$750 million on the app with Grace Kennedy Group CEO, Don Wehby remarking that “the growth rate of GK ONE has been phenomenal and we are going to continue to invest heavily in this product.”
Wehby, who made the disclosure about the additional capital being invested in this product declared that the group is excited at the prospects for the app noting that he has been meeting with stakeholders all over the world, who are equally excited as him. The app boasts several features, including a digital wallet and a companion pre-paid Visa card.
GK One coming to T&T and Guyana
The pre-paid Visa card can be used anywhere Visa cards are accepted and can now also be topped-up at over 80 Bill Express locations in Jamaica. Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday (May 31), Wehby stated that subject to regulatory and other approvals, GK ONE will be rolled out in two Caribbean territories outside of Jamaica later this year, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana.
“This is a Jamaican in-house build technology, build by Jamaicans. I feel proud to be a Jamaican with this product. This is something that is very very special to us at GraceKennedy and it has a lot of potential,” Wehby told Grace’s shareholders.
Added locations for remittance services
Turning to the remittance business, the GraceKennedy CEO advised that while this segment continues to operate in a highly competitive global remittance environment and recover from the inflationary pressures of 2022, through scaled up marketing efforts, competitive pricing, and other strategic initiatives, GraceKennedy Money Services (GKMS) have seen improved results in its remittance business.
To this extent, GKMS has increased its remittance service locations to 200, particularly with the recently signed agreement with Unicomer Jamaica Limited, which operates the Courts stores in Jamaica, which are now offering Western Union services at its retail stores.
Subject to regulatory and other approvals, this new venture will ultimately result in 50 Western Union locations being added across the island with increased customer convenience. Wehby made the point that Jamaicans love cash evidenced by the long lines at ATMs each and every day.
The GraceKennedy CEO made the observation that 93 per cent of remittances coming into Jamaica is done by cash while the remaining seven percent is through digital channels but interestingly, the digital channel is growing by 30 per cent while cash is not growing at all.
“Having said that, our strategy is building out more locations and with the addition of Courts, which is a strong brand. We will be well branded in the Courts stores, “Wehby quipped.
This well branded feature, he explained should be evident by next month. GKMS also recently entered into an agreement with National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited to offer Western Union services via their digital wallet – Lynk. This agreement is also subject to the necessary regulatory and other approvals, with launch of that service anticipated for later this year.