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Jamaican Gov’t Provides Incentives to Boost JAM-DEX Use

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In the upcoming fiscal year, the Government will introduce two new incentive programmes to encourage greater take-up of the Central Bank Digital Currency, JAM-DEX.

They are the Small/Micro Merchant Incentive Programme and the Wallet-holder Individual Loyalty Programme.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, provided details while opening the 2023/24 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on March 7.

JAM-DEX provides a safe, efficient, and convenient way to pay for goods and services. Currently, the National Commercial Bank offers JAM-DEX through LYNK®, which is its digital wallet.

For the Small Merchant JAM-DEX Incentive Programme, Dr. Clarke explained the first 10,000 merchants onboarded as of April 1, 2023 will receive $25,000 of JAM-DEX upon registration and onboarding.

These are small merchants, who operate in industries such as restaurants, gas stations, and personal-care services.

To qualify as a merchant, the following documents will be required: Business Registration Certificate and Certificate of Incorporation; proof of bank account anywhere, including a Low Know Your Customer account; and Valid Tax Compliance Certificate or evidence of application, if expired.

Merchants who are on-boarded will also receive a ‘JAM-DEX Accepted Here’ sticker for display at their locations.

Meanwhile, for the Wallet Holder – Individuals Loyalty Programme, users of JAM-DEX will receive loyalty points that can be redeemed for select purposes, including receiving cash back.

Dr. Clarke said effective April 1, 2023, consumers with JAM-DEX wallets, existing and new, will receive two per cent on total purchases for goods and services in JAM-DEX, up to a maximum spend of $5,000.

The loyalty funds earned will be applied to the user’s wallet at the end of each month.

Dr. Clarke said the incentives are applicable only for financial year 2023/24 and encouraged individuals and small businesses to sign up for the initiatives.

Furthermore, he said the Low Know Your Customer (KYC) initiative will be extended for a further year.

Through the programme, the first 60,000 customers who sign up for a Low KYC account at any commercial bank after April 1, 2023, will receive a grant from the Government of $2,500 into that account.

A total of 100,000 customers are being targeted under the incentive, which was launched last year. As at end of February 2023, only 36,000 customers under the initiative.

The Bank of Jamaica implemented the phased national roll-out of JAM-DEX in 2022, with the objective of facilitating greater financial inclusion and support Jamaica’s transformation into a digital economy.

As of February 18, 2023, the total number of JAM-DEX customers onboarded by Lynk was 190,000, comprising 185,410 individuals, 90 small merchants, and 4,500 micro merchants.

The total JAM-DEX transaction activity for 2022 was valued at $357 million.

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Business Insights

Prime customers – Grubhub Expanding Partnership with Amazon.com Inc.

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Grubhub, the struggling US meal-delivery business, announced May 30 it was expanding its two-year-old partnership with Amazon.com Inc. and giving Amazon Prime members free food delivery.

As part of the new deal, Amazon also incorporated Grubhub’s delivery service directly into its shopping app and website, and increased its financial stake in the company owned by Just Eat Takeaway.com NV.

Grubhub Chief Executive Officer Howard Migdal told me this deepened relationship with Amazon will be a key catalyst for user growth and revenue. Prime members are a “good cohort” of customers as they tend to order more frequently than Grubhub’s average customer, he said.

So far there has been an immediate boost: Grubhub’s app downloads jumped 90% in the week of the announcement compared with the previous week, and the number of users opening the app rose more than 9% for two straight weeks, outpacing that of food and grocery peers. That’s according to Bloomberg’s analysis of data tracked by mobile research firm Apptopia.

But this could prove challenging to sustain. While the pace of overall order declines reported by parent Just Eat’s US and Canadian business has slowed in recent quarters, third-party data from market research firms SimilarWeb and YipitData show that the initial 2022 Amazon-Grubhub partnership hasn’t reversed the streak of losses in orders and users for Chicago-based Grubhub.

The company has dropped a significant amount of market share to delivery rivals DoorDash Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. as they ramp up competition through offerings beyond just takeout meals from restaurants. Yipit’s data shows Grubhub market share fell to 6% in March from 11% in August 2022, with a loss in urban users the most pronounced.

Rivals in recent years have raced to expand the number and types of stores on their sites and improved their technology to let customers bundle multistore orders without additional cost, which Grubhub hasn’t allowed.

DoorDash and Uber, in particular, have enhanced their routing algorithms so their delivery couriers can seamlessly pick up a last-minute drugstore item, drinks from a liquor store, or condiments from the grocery store while en route to grab a restaurant order nearby. These upgrades let the companies “upsell” consumers and advertise relevant items to bundle into their order, helping expand the size of the basket and increase ad revenue from brands.

Making the Grubhub+ subscription free for the 180 million US shoppers who are part of households with a Prime membership could entice those consumers to keep their Prime accounts, which would be a boon for Amazon. But at the same time, it wipes out potential customers for Grubhub’s subscription service — and the revenue they might have generated. That makes the sale of Grubhub, which Dutch parent Just Eat has been considering since 2022, “less likely,” according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysts.

So far, a customer who tries to place a Grubhub order within Amazon won’t find it as easy as described. According to Grubhub, users can visit a dedicated website to start a Grubhub order; or they could be directed to that site through a variety of paths from Amazon.

On Amazon’s mobile app, the Grubhub button is hidden within the “Groceries” tab, below buttons for Amazon Fresh, the grocery delivery service, and Amazon’s Whole Foods. Alternatively, users can type “Grubhub” in the Amazon search bar to access the Grubhub banner. At least two more clicks are needed to launch the restaurant ordering interface in an in-app browser window, which makes the experience foreign to the Amazon app.

This makes the integration more of a bonus than a feature of convenience. Whether the deal can effectively convert new users to loyal Grubhub customers remains to be seen.

Source Natalie Lung Bloomberg

 

 

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Artificial Intelligence

Apple’s AI Play: A High-Stakes Game in a Booming Market

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In the wake of Apple’s highly anticipated AI announcement, the tech giant’s shares have seen a dip, reflecting investor disappointment over the lack of groundbreaking news. At the heart of this announcement is Apple Intelligence, a new AI platform aimed at catching up with competitors in the fiercely competitive AI market.

The Announcement and Market Reaction
During its event, Apple unveiled Apple Intelligence, a platform designed to integrate AI across its ecosystem. However, the announcement fell short of delivering the groundbreaking innovations that many had hoped for, causing a slip in pre-market trading. The partnership with OpenAI, although significant, was only briefly mentioned, leaving investors and analysts wanting more​ (MacRumors)​​ (Yahoo)​.

Strategic Implications
Apple’s strategy with Apple Intelligence focuses on embedding AI capabilities into its core applications like Safari, Photos, and Notes, emphasizing practical tools and user privacy. This integration aims to leverage both on-device and cloud processing, setting Apple apart from rivals like Google and Microsoft who have been more aggressive in showcasing their AI advancements​​.

The partnership with OpenAI to incorporate ChatGPT technology into iOS 18 is a significant move, highlighting Apple’s commitment to enhancing its AI capabilities. This collaboration is expected to bolster Apple’s competitive position but also limits OpenAI’s ability to monetize through other channels, thus aligning their goals closely​​.

Technological and Market Impact
Apple’s AI ambitions are supported by its hardware advancements, particularly the M2 Ultra processors, which are designed to handle the intensive processing requirements of AI applications. By doubling its data center capacity, Apple aims to ensure its AI services run efficiently across its vast ecosystem​​.

Despite the underwhelming announcement, analysts remain optimistic about Apple’s long-term prospects in AI. The integration of AI across Apple’s product suite is expected to drive higher upgrade rates and bolster its market position. Goldman Sachs has set a bullish 12-month price target for Apple, anticipating significant gains driven by AI and other ecosystem investments​.

Conclusion
Apple’s AI journey is a calculated but high-stakes endeavor. While the initial announcement may not have lived up to the hype, the strategic moves and ongoing developments suggest a robust foundation for future growth. As Apple continues to innovate and refine its AI strategy, it is poised to make significant strides in the tech industry, reinforcing its status as a leading innovator.

For more detailed insights and updates, you can refer to the sources from MacRumors, Markets Insider, and Yahoo Finance.

 

 

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Artificial Intelligence

The Rise of Drone Deliveries: Implications for Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Future of Logistics

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Amazon’s MK27-2 drone is at the forefront of transforming logistics with its ongoing testing at an airport in Pendleton, Oregon. This advanced 87-pound hexacopter is part of Amazon’s Prime Air initiative, aiming to revolutionize the way we receive packages by enabling faster and more efficient deliveries.

The Development of Amazon’s Drone Program
Amazon has been developing its drone technology for almost a decade, with the goal of creating a safe, scalable, and efficient delivery system. The MK27-2 drone, set for deployment in 2024, is designed to deliver packages weighing up to five pounds within a short time frame, potentially less than an hour from order placement. This drone features advanced sense-and-avoid technology, which allows it to detect and navigate around obstacles autonomously, enhancing safety and reliability​​.

Competitors in the Drone Delivery Space
Amazon is not alone in the drone delivery race. Alphabet’s Wing has been successfully conducting drone deliveries in Australia and is expanding its operations in the U.S. Flytrex, another competitor, is increasing its presence in the U.S., while Irish company Manna plans to extend its drone delivery services from Europe to the U.S. Each of these companies is leveraging technology to offer faster, more reliable delivery services, which are particularly advantageous in remote or hard-to-reach areas​​.

Implications for Jamaica and the Caribbean
The introduction of drone delivery services holds significant potential for Jamaica and the broader Caribbean region. These areas often face logistical challenges due to geographical constraints and infrastructure limitations. Drones can provide a cost-effective and rapid delivery solution, particularly for medical supplies, emergency services, and e-commerce.

Implementing drone logistics in the Caribbean could enhance supply chain efficiency, reduce delivery times, and lower costs. For instance, drones could facilitate better access to healthcare by delivering medications to remote islands or rural areas quickly. They could also boost the local economy by supporting small businesses in reaching a broader market with reduced delivery times.

Case Studies and Future Prospects
In practical applications, drone delivery services have demonstrated substantial benefits. For example, in Rwanda, drones are used to deliver blood supplies to remote hospitals, significantly reducing delivery times from hours to minutes. This model can be adapted to the Caribbean, where timely access to medical supplies is often critical.

Looking forward, the success of drone delivery in regions like the Caribbean depends on overcoming regulatory challenges, ensuring community acceptance, and building the necessary infrastructure. Collaborative efforts between governments, private companies, and local communities will be essential to harness the full potential of drone technology in transforming logistics.

Amazon’s MK27-2 drone represents a significant leap in the logistics industry, promising faster, safer, and more efficient delivery services. As other companies like Alphabet’s Wing and Flytrex join the fray, the competitive landscape will drive further innovations. For regions like Jamaica and the Caribbean, drone technology offers a transformative opportunity to enhance logistics and support economic development.

By leveraging these advancements, the Caribbean can not only improve access to essential services but also position itself as a leader in adopting cutting-edge logistics solutions. The future of drone deliveries is bright, and its implications for global logistics are profound.

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Customised Smart Battery Industry Well-Positioned To Capitalise On Growing Shift Towards Cleaner Energy Solutions….Alexander Melville

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In the last three months, the ustomised smart battery industry has also made significant strides alongside the broader growth observed in the renewable energy and energy storage sectors. This niche within the energy storage market has been gaining momentum, fuelled by technological advancements and increased demand for personalised energy solutions that cater specifically to unique operational needs that benefit us.

The industry’s development is buoyed by the regulatory and financial frameworks propelling the renewable sector, particularly the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These acts have facilitated a surge in investments to enhance battery technology capabilities, including developing intelligent batteries that are more efficient, durable, and capable of interfacing with various digital management systems.

Customised intelligent batteries are increasingly critical components in integrating renewable energy systems. They offer optimised storage solutions that adapt to different scales and types of renewable energy installations. They are vital in applications requiring high reliability and efficiency, such as utility-scale solar and wind projects, where they help stabilise the grid and manage output variability.

Moreover, the drive towards domestic production emphasised by recent policy initiatives has strengthened the supply chain for intelligent battery components. This domestic focus not only aids in reducing logistic vulnerabilities but also supports the U.S. economy and job creation in the tech and manufacturing sectors. As more companies enter the smart battery market, competition is spurring innovation, leading to rapid advancements in battery technology that could further enhance the performance and cost-effectiveness of these systems.

Customised intelligent batteries are increasingly critical components in integrating renewable energy systems.

The customised smart battery industry is well-positioned to capitalise on the growing shift towards cleaner energy solutions. It will play a pivotal role in the green transition while continuing to evolve in response to technological advances and market demands.

Alexander Melville Chief Executive Officer Tropical Battery Company Limited

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Business Insights

T+1: A New Era for the Jamaica Stock Exchange

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Last week marked a significant milestone in the history of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) as it transitions to a T+1 settlement cycle, where trades will settle within one business day of execution. This change, the first of its kind in a century, aligns the JSE with modern global financial markets, aiming to enhance efficiency and reduce systemic risk.

The move to T+1 holds substantial implications for local trading, promising both opportunities and challenges for companies and investors.

Local Implications of T+1 Settlement

Enhanced Market Efficiency

The shift to T+1 is designed to improve the speed and efficiency of the trading process. By reducing the settlement period from the previous T+3 cycle, the time between the trade execution and the finalization of ownership transfer or payment is shortened. This accelerates the availability of capital, enabling investors to reallocate their funds more quickly and react promptly to market developments.

Reduced Counterparty Risk

A shorter settlement cycle reduces the counterparty risk, the risk that one party in a transaction may default before the settlement is completed. This change is particularly beneficial in volatile markets, as it limits the exposure time for both buyers and sellers. For the JSE, this means a more robust and resilient market infrastructure, capable of withstanding economic fluctuations and fostering investor confidence.

Operational Adjustments

However, the transition to T+1 requires significant adjustments in operational processes for brokers, clearinghouses, and financial institutions. Systems and procedures must be updated to handle the accelerated timeline, ensuring that trade confirmations, funding, and securities transfers are completed within the shortened period. This necessitates investment in technology and staff training, which may pose initial challenges but ultimately lead to more streamlined operations.

Benefits for Companies and Investors

For Companies:

Improved Liquidity: With faster settlement times, companies can benefit from improved liquidity as funds from share sales are made available more quickly. This can enhance their ability to reinvest in business operations, pay down debt, or return capital to shareholders.

Greater Market Confidence: The move to T+1 may attract more investors, both domestic and international, to the JSE due to increased market efficiency and reduced risk. Higher investor participation can lead to better price discovery and potentially higher stock valuations.

For Investors:

Quick Access to Funds: Investors can access the proceeds from the sale of securities more rapidly, allowing for quicker reinvestment opportunities. This flexibility can be particularly advantageous in a dynamic market environment.

Enhanced Risk Management: The reduction in counterparty risk provides a safer trading environment, which is especially important for institutional investors managing large portfolios.

International Developments and Their Influence

The global shift towards shorter settlement cycles is not unique to Jamaica. Major financial markets, including those in the United States and Europe, are also transitioning to T+1 or even considering T+0 (same-day settlement). This international trend underscores the importance of keeping pace with global standards to remain competitive.

For instance, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been advocating for a T+1 settlement cycle, with plans to implement this change by 2024. The rationale behind this move is to enhance market resilience, especially in times of crisis, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic when market volatility highlighted the vulnerabilities of longer settlement periods.

The Jamaica Stock Exchange’s adoption of T+1 settlement is a forward-thinking initiative that aligns with global financial market trends. While the transition may present initial challenges, the long-term benefits of increased efficiency, reduced risk, and enhanced market confidence are substantial. For companies, the new regime promises improved liquidity and potentially higher valuations, while investors stand to gain from quicker access to funds and a safer trading environment.

As the JSE navigates this significant change, the collaborative efforts of regulators, market participants, and technology providers will be crucial in ensuring a smooth transition. By embracing the T+1 settlement cycle, Jamaica is poised to strengthen its position in the global financial landscape, offering a more dynamic and resilient marketplace for all stakeholders.

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