Clarifying the M3 project
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Thank you for the extensive coverage you provided on the launch of the Development Bank of Jamaica's pilot project, Mobile Money for Microfinance (M3), which took place Monday, February 11.
However, in relation to the article 'DBJ to lend J$1.5b through mobile banking platform', which appeared on page C5 of The Gleaner on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, I would like to correct a few errors and clarify the overall nature of the M3 pilot project.
M3 was given the green light by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) under very specific guidelines. Importantly, the mobile money accounts are managed and maintained by the DBJ in technology provider Transcel's mobile money platform.
All the funds involved in the pilot are held in trust in a DBJ-controlled custodian account held in participating commercial bank National Commercial Bank (NCB).
The Microfinance institution (MFI) customers who open mobile money accounts must have their identity validated by a BOJ-regulated institution, in this instance, NCB.
In addition to using the Transcel app on their phones to send and receive monies, MFI customers will be able to withdraw and deposit cash using NCB-provided debit cards associated with the M3 platform.
Please note that the services provided under M3 do not include access to NCB bank accounts.
In the very first paragraph it was stated (and, to a lesser extent, implied in the headline) that the DBJ "has made J$1.55 billion available to 10 approved lenders for distribution in the test phase". This is incorrect.
The reference to J$1.55 billion was made by DBJ's managing director Milverton Reynolds in his address to explain that this amount had been made available to microfinance institutions since the DBJ introduced a microfinance lending window in 2009.
Additionally, the guest speaker at the event was Anthony Hylton, minister of industry, investment and commerce. He was invited to launch the project and spoke extensively on the strategic importance of the initiative. Additionally, he elaborated on the significance of Mobile Money services to other major government projects, including the international financial centre and the global logistics hub.
While we would not be presumptuous enough to suggest to you how to write and present your stories, we find it odd that neither the minister's comments nor his presence merited even a small mention in the story.
The DBJ's mandate is to facilitate economic growth and development, and the M3 project is one way of achieving our objective.
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify the issues for your readers who include our stakeholders, customers, and potential investors.
Yvonne (Emmy) Lewars
General Manager, Institutional Strengthening & Project Management
Development Bank of Jamaica