Sat | Jun 23, 2018

Jamaicans relying less on cash

Published:Friday | January 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder

Jamaicans are relying less on cash and more on point-of-sale and Internet transactions, according to local banks and their regulator, the Bank of Jamaica, BOJ.

Those findings predated the peak shopping season over Christmas, but that period itself was also characterised by a downturn in cash usage.

Also in December, Scotiabank noted the significant increase in electronic banking to explain its decision to shutter its express banking network.

Offering more details, the BOJ told the Financial Gleaner that annual growth in the major retail electronic means of payment was notably strong since the end of October 2017, and that in the one-year period leading up to that month, major retail electronic means of payment grew by 33.8 per cent.

It was even more robust than the November 2015 to October 2016 period when electronic transactions increased 21.7 per cent, and outpaced the five-year average growth rate, which was estimated at 31.8 per cent.

At the same, for the month of December, which usually sees higher flows of cash, the BOJ reported that currency in circulation and cash in bank vaults grew by $15.7 billion or 16.5 per cent, but this was at a slower pace than the 17.1 per cent growth recorded for December 2016.

"The slower currency growth reflects increased use of electronic means of payment," BOJ said.

The central bank told the Financial Gleaner that while electronic transactions grew overall last year, it was manifested in point-of-sale and Internet transactions, specifically. ABM transactions declined, the BOJ said.

Between November 2016 and October 2017, point-of-sale transactions grew 29 per cent, to outpace its five-year average of 18 per cent. A further disaggregation shows growth of 32 per cent in credit transactions, up from 24 per cent a year earlier.

At the same time, the central bank says there was moderation in the growth in point-of-sale debit card payments to 23.5 per cent for the review period, from 26.6 per cent, but noted that it still outperformed the five-year average growth rate of 19.7 per cent.

Internet debit transactions grew by 39 per cent relative to 19 per cent for the similar period ending October 2016, the BOJ said.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com