Leading digital wallet, Lynk, officially launched its LynkBiz merchant platform to the public on Saturday (April 29), partnering with Yello Media Group to offer a web development and e-commerce integration package for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The NCB-powered platform used the occasion made its debut as an exhibitor and sponsor of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) EXPO Jamaica.
The self-proclaimed ‘Money App’ also led an engaging panel discussion with special guests Investment and Commerce Minister Aubyn Hill, and Natalie Haynes, deputy governor at the Bank of Jamaica, at the National Indoor Sports Centre under the theme ‘The Digital Future of Business’.
Vernon James, CEO of Lynk and Ian Neita, director of Yello Media Group, were also on the panel. They discussed the current state of e-commerce in Jamaica, the challenges, benefits of going cashless, latest innovations and opportunities for growing the digital economy in Jamaica
Jamaica’s e-commerce industry is still in its early stages of development, however according to a 2020 report by the Caribbean Development Bank, there is significant potential for growth.
The report noted that e-commerce transactions in the region are projected to reach US$4.8 billion by 2024, up from US$1.5 billion in 2018.
“All commerce is going to be, in time, cashless and done on platforms like we’ve talked about here today,” said Senator Hill, during the panel discussion. He also spoke on the opportunities for inclusion created by going digital. “We want ordinary people who grow scallion, sell pigs, or maybe mangoes, barbers and manicurists to have access.”
Hill identified areas for growth in the digital economy, primarily referring to the creation of a digital marketplace.
“Right now, we don’t have a centralised digital marketplace. We want to build a marketplace that will accommodate everyone, remove any risks, ensure the technology is good, and connect Jamaican merchants of all sizes, across all industries, to the world. This is why the government is making this substantial investment in putting in a digital marketplace.”
During the panel discussion, Vernon James of Lynk discussed the need to build trust between digital providers and the society.
“Trust is the foundation of this digital revolution. As we aim to bring both the banked and unbanked into the digital future, we must create an ecosystem that is secure while giving them control over how and when they spend their money and with no hidden fees. We also need to ensure that the correct players are onboard so they can spend their money where they want – from KFC to the corner shop.”
Lynk’s merchant platform, LynkBiz, enables MSMEs to integrate digital payment solutions at their point of sale – whether in a brick-and-mortar location with a ‘Scan to Pay’ QR code or online via a ‘Pay With Lynk’ button.
The business product provides the needed functionality for business owners and staff at all levels to carry out day-to-day business operations and payment processing. With the newly minted strategic partnership with Yello, MSMEs interested in LynkBiz for eCommerce can build a website and integrate the ‘Pay with Lynk’ button to accommodate purchases on the site. The complete digital solution ranges in cost from approximately J$4,600 to J$76,000 to accommodate businesses of all sizes which are looking to sell products online.
With 19 per cent of Jamaicans already purchasing goods and services online, according to a 2020 STATIN report, the potential for growth and increased uptake is imminent.
“Jamaica’s digital future is bright based on a number of things. We have built and put in place the telecommunications infrastructure and necessary tools, and now with our partnership with Lynk we will have an even wider reach, especially with small businesses,” said Neita.
“At Yello, we’ve always prided ourselves on connecting customers and merchants. We started out with very low technology, a print directory. We have since built on that with search engine marketing, website development, and now, with this partnership with Lynk, we are going to exercise our creativity and come up with new solutions. The future is bright.”
The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) has been a key player in the facilitation and promotion of the digital economy with a special focus on educating Jamaicans on the use of digital currency.
For her part, deputy governor Haynes shared how the BOJ has and plans to continue to support the growth of eCommerce in Jamaica.
“Digital is here to stay, and it is something we all have to embrace in every area of our lives. The BOJ as the regulator in charge of the financial system and the payment system will ensure that all players in the market are properly regulated.”
According to Haynes, businesses stand to benefit from integrating digital payment solutions, platforms and processes.
“Small merchants who previously may not have had traditional products such as bank accounts and credit or debit cards can get into the space with the low KYC requirements to have an account but also e-money and of course JAM-DEX. When they integrate themselves into eCommerce it opens up their business to a wider local and international audience and when they come into the formal financial system it opens up access to loans and other facilities for them that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to access without traditional products that require a different set of KYC requirements.”
Lynk is the first, and currently the only wallet holder for the BOJ’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), JAM-DEX. Currently, small businesses who register for LynkBiz qualify for the Government of Jamaica’s Small Business JAM-DEX incentive which offers $25,000 once the business has successfully completed five CBDC transactions with a JAM-DEX QR code.
Consumers will also earn as they shop, gaining two per cent cash back when they choose to pay in JAM-DEX.
“We are building out the capacity for all businesses to accept digital payments, and with the Government’s incentive, we are also facilitating opportunities to earn additional money,” said James. “As users interact with the mobile app and LynkBiz merchants, they’ll see the ease and convenience that LynkBiz brings. It connects the banked and unbanked in a unique way to make life easier because anyone can get on the mobile app with a valid TRN number and begin shopping and paying bills with Lynk. So, you don’t have to worry about stopping at the ATM to grab cash for your barber or gardener – just pay with Lynk. If you’re wary about entering your bank card details on a website, you can look out for the ‘Pay With Lynk’ button and use Lynk instead. And if you didn’t bring enough cash to a store or restaurant and don’t want to swipe you can ‘Scan to Pay’ with Lynk.”