Fri | Dec 1, 2023

Lynk courts digital future with ABM compatibility

Published:Wednesday | September 21, 2022 | 12:10 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke gets instructions from Lynk CEO Vernon James on how to use the Lynk ABM during a launch at the NCB Atrium on Trafalgar Road, St Andrew, on Tuesday.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke gets instructions from Lynk CEO Vernon James on how to use the Lynk ABM during a launch at the NCB Atrium on Trafalgar Road, St Andrew, on Tuesday.

Seeking to gin up support for cashless transactions, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke has cast the digital economy as the future for Jamaica.

Speaking at the launch of a Lynk ABM feature on Tuesday, Clarke recalled a trip to London on which he attempted to pay for his dinner in cash but was told that the establishment did not accept cash but facilitated payment through digital currency.

“Even for me [who] has been on the forefront of encouraging the digital transformation in Jamaica, it was a shocking experience,” Clarke said during the launch at the National Commercial Bank’s Atrium branch in New Kingston.

The new application will enable users to top up and withdraw money from digital Lynk wallets using NCB’s network of 325 ABMs.

The free-to-use, contactless feature promotes inclusiveness and offers both the unbanked and underbanked the ability to cash in and out of their Lynk wallet.

Additionally, Lynk will absorb all associated banking fees, making the customer’s use of the feature entirely free.

Since its debut in December 2021, Lynk – operated by TFOB (2021) Limited, a fintech arm of the NCB Financial Group – has been pitched as operationally efficient, less expensive, and more productive.

“The only way that we are going to be able to include the hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans who are part of this economy is to have the technology that allows us to leapfrog some of the difficulties that the society has with traditional methods,” Clarke said.

“The digital economy is the future. It is the future globally ... and it is the future for Jamaica,” he noted, adding that it was more.

Vernon James, Lynk’s chief executive officer (CEO), said that it was committed to re-energising financial services in Jamaica and “to empower all Jamaicans to pursue their dreams by using technology at a revolutionised finance”.

James said further that the company has experienced hyperscaling because of the team’s commitment to ongoing evaluation and modification of software. He stated that in the first nine months of its existence, the software had been used by more than 145 users, 32 of which were micro-merchants.

He revealed that a merchant app would be launched in October and that a remittance feature would be added in short order to facilitate overseas users.

The digital wallet has recorded more than $500 million worth of transactions. Lynk’s encryption software insulates users from card fraud, said James.

Lynk can also be used to top up mobile phones and facilitate Jamaica Digital Exchange subscribers.

Responding to public criticism of frequent ABM malfunctions, NCB CEO Septimus ‘Bob’ Blake said that the bank has not overlooked the need for ongoing improvement and investments to address accessibility concerns.

“We have to ensure that we have good customer experience and we have to be relentless at operational resilience and customer experience and we do take the concerns of our customers in terms of machines breaking down,” Blake said.

He disclosed that a total of 2.5 million transactions are conducted monthly on NCB’s ABM network.

There is a higher concentration of ABMs in urban and metropolitan areas than in rural areas.

“We are striving and we are investing and we expect that the performance ... will be at the desired level in terms of our customer expectations,” he said.

With Lynk now compatible with ABMs, Blake committed to better upkeep of ABM infrastructure.

NCB invested more than $800 million in ABM upkeep in 2021.

Blake said expansion of the bank’s ABM footprint would be determined by transaction activity, accessibility, and financial feasibility.