Jamaica failing at financial Inclusion - Earl Jarrett
Earl Jarrett, JN Group CEO
JN Group CEO, Earl Jarrett says Jamaica is failing to provide broad public access to its financial system.
This is despite the government’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), which aims to improve the country’s financial system by 2020, Jarrett said. Its goal is to ensure the widest public access to the system, necessary to enable individuals to build financial resilience by saving safely and investing to generate wealth.
“Jamaica has been recognised as having one of highest levels of income disparities in the world,” Jarrett said. “I looked at Jamaica’s data versus and Kenya, and that country has less disparity than we do.”
Jamaica is one of a number of countries to have developed a strategy for financial inclusion as the link between financial inclusion and poverty reduction, as well as growth, have become clearer, and Jarrett pointed out that he is a member of the financial inclusion committee established at the Bank of Jamaica, under this NFIS.
“One of our mandates is to democratise credit cards in Jamaica,” he stated. “When credit cards were introduced in Jamaica, they catered to the rich.”
He pointed out that Jamaica now has a workforce of 1.4 million persons, but only a small fraction has credit cards.
“When I visited my courier service, I noticed that they rent their credit card so that customers could purchase goods from Amazon and other websites,” he said. ”If more people had credit cards, life would become easier.”
He was speaking at a recent staff function for JN General Insurance, a subsidiary of Jamaica National, where he discussed the importance of overcoming financial access barriers such as wealth and gender.
“More persons must be able to use electronic transfers and debit cards as well as credit cards,” Jarrett declared, adding that, “This allows you to enter the global space and shop anywhere you want, whenever you want.”
Enabling access to the financial system will spur national development, he explained. This is because financial inclusions benefit not only individuals but also small and newly-established enterprises.
“More persons must have bank accounts and more persons must have insurance,” he told the JNGI staff members in the audience. “Many Jamaicans have experienced exclusion and we need the vision to elevate them.”