GK One app to centralise financial services on mobile devices
GraceKennedy Limited is engineering a new app that will become a centralised portal for the financial services offered by the conglomerate, spanning insurance, bill payment, and banking.
Group CEO Don Wehby some of what the company envisions will require sign-off by the central bank, which itself is attempting to keep pace with rapidly evolving financial technologies.
"As a regulated financial service, every new offering has to be approved by the central bank. Presently, most monetary policies deal with cash-based transactions and as such, do not cover the full extent of the ever-changing and growing digital space," said the GK boss.
"We know that our regulators are actively watching this space with a view to developing a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies," he said.
But Wehby also shot down rumours that GraceKennedy would be launching a cryptocurrency function through its mobile wallet, GK MPay. Instead, the company is focused on developing its new GK One app into a digital suite of financial services, through subsidiary GraceKennedy Financial Group, or GKFG.
This is happening in sync with the physical roll out of physical locations nationwide, by the end of 2018, where the conglomerate's clientele can complete all financial transactions in one place. GK aims to roll 20 locations by the end of 2018.
Wehby said initially the GK One app will be separate from the GK MPay mobile wallet, but the company is "exploring the possibility of integrating both apps in the longer-term," he added.
GraceKennedy is investing up to $5 billion across the food and financial group this year, but Wehby declined to comment on the size of the investment in the tech and branch projects, citing competitive reasons.
"The GKFG app is an ever-evolving product and we are working towards the goal of having all services in GK One locations available digitally," said Wehby.
"A few of the initial features that we are aiming to include are the ability to view all your insurance and banking accounts on the app, get a quick quote for insurance coverage, pay a bill and other common transactions," he told the Financial Gleaner.
The development work for the app is being done in phases, some elements of which may require regulatory approval, he added.
Subscribers to GK One will have to register for the service.
"Our ultimate vision is to create a 'best in class' digital customer experience that will add value to our customers' lives by way of greater convenience," he added.
Under the digital roadmap developed by GK, the company has already launched a service for online money transfers through WU.com. Users of the outbound remittance service have to sign up by presenting identification in person at a Western Union location, before they can send funds out of Jamaica via the platform.
GK represents Western Union in Jamaica and 11 other Caribbean markets Antigua & Barbuda, Anguilla, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guyana, Montserrat, St Kitts-Nevis, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and Turks & Caicos Islands.
Wehby notes that most of the markets are outbound compared to Jamaica which is primarily inbound. Annual remittance outflows from Jamaica amounted to US$235 million in 2016, whereas the inflows topped US$2.2 billion, according to central bank data.
"As far as the roll-out of WU.com to other markets, that will be done on a phased basis, and is dependent on regulatory approval in those markets," Wehby said.