Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Letter of the Day | Jamaica should be open to digitalisation

Published:Saturday | December 5, 2020 | 8:31 AM


Since the onset of the COVID-19, the shift in doing business has been drastic. Conducting business in Jamaica has always been time-consuming and complex, but I was unprepared for how worse things could get when COVID-19 disrupted the normal ‘way of work’.

It was always unclear to me why the service hours of many public and private businesses coincided with the 9-5 job hours for the average working folk, interestingly many of these same businesses are closed on the weekends. When is it that we are expected to do our own business? What adds to the complication is knowing that the traditional lunch hour is never enough for what could be deemed the simplest of transactions as the turnover time is typically lengthy.

Since our first confirmed COVID-19 case in March of this year, it became obvious that ‘going digital’ is not a choice it is ‘a must’. Regardless of the industry that we work in across the world, one truth remains constant, digital platforms have become an essential part of operations in our day-to-day lives.

Before COVID-19, for Jamaica, it seemed that going digital would take centuries and our people would be resistant to any such change, but we have quickly adapted because we had to. With these ongoing changes, I cannot help but wonder about the proposed NIDS (National Identification System) that Prime Minister Holness is so passionate about. Doing the research, I now believe that the introduction of the national ID with the objectives that have been put forward is much needed at this time. With the current state of operations, when needing to transact business, it is quite difficult and frustrating, as it is time-consuming and counterproductive when trying to verify my identity. I, too, have my concerns, most of which are hinged on the matter of security. But since the world is moving towards mandatory online business, I think we need to ensure that our infrastructure is also upgraded to support this global digitisation.

The Government must continue its public education drive around the NIDS, I recall seeing an article where the prime minister mentioned that the public will be able to participate in the deliberations. This is commendable, I am ready to not just ask questions and hold the Government accountable, but I, too, want to be part of the solution.

With the proposed NIDS being voluntary, I feel more at ease at being able to make an informed decision. If NIDS is the key to faster, easier, secure and a convenient way of proving my identity, then sign me up.