JMMB Group to accelerate digitisation


JMMB Group to accelerate digitisation

Observer business writer

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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Jamaica Money Market Brokers Group Limited (JMMBGL) is continuing to digitise its operations in an effort to keep growing its balance sheet, which now stands at $400 billion, with its focus firmly set on a $9-billion profit target.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Keith Duncan cemented the group's aim to improve its digital solutions and successfully implement phase two of the bank's standardisation project under Group Digital Services General Manager Gifford Rankine, at its virtual annual general meeting (AGM) held recently.

“The information technology (IT) focus is key for us going forward. We have our new chief technical officer on board and will be building out a solid network infrastructure. Digital is going to be important in the new normal. We're going to be giving the IT team the support and have a cross-functional team work with them. We're going to meet with them every two weeks and there will be some noticeable systems improvements coming next week,” Duncan told shareholders at the AGM.

This includes a core platform across the company's three operating territories — Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad & Tobago — card management systems, rolling out Intelligent ATM footprint and payment gateways, deployment of a mobile application and upgrades to the company's online banking and investment services.

One of these realisations has been the availability for new and existing clients to open accounts through JMMB's client care e-mail address along with real time stock trading earlier this year. An upgrade to the group's key online platforms will facilitate the upload of documents rather than requiring a direct physical copy.

“If, at any time, you have a challenge fulfilling your obligations, like paying your bills or a mortgage payment that could not have been made in time because of downtime issues, we are always committed to reimbursing our clients for the late fees that they would have incurred as a result,” stated Chief Marketing Officer Kerry-Ann Stimpson.

While no defined timeline for the launch of credit cards has been made, the group indicated that it's a pipeline solution in the short term.

Although the group's net profit attributable to shareholders fell by 31 per cent, for the comparative first quarter to $769.3 million, JMMBGL currently has several acquisitions lined up to expand its growth potential.

“We will continue to have acquisitions in our pipeline because we continue to search out those opportunities,” said Duncan. “We have to scale up and build efficiencies through standardisation and digitisation of processes. You will hear about that in the near future.”

This would be a major follow-up from the group's US$250-million acquisition of Sagicor Financial Company (SFC) last December, making it the single largest shareholder (22.5 per cent) in the Caribbean-based conglomerate. SFC has yielded the group US$1.87 million in dividends every quarter since acquisition despite SFC's recording losses so far in the 2019/2020 financial year. JMMBGL has also benefited from SFC's recent share buyback programme in which SFC has targeted eight per cent of its outstanding shares in the programme.

Part of the group's expansion will come from growing its business banking line plus inorganic growth in new markets. One of the notable solutions in this category is a private equity solution to be offered to SMEs (small and medium enterprises) within the financial year.

The Dominican Republic and Trinidad operations have remained strong even as the novel coronavirus pandemic's toll in both countries remain dire. Both countries saw double-digit growth in their banking client base over the financial year with the Dominican Republic operations' net profit increasing by 153 per cent to $387.6 million.

As part of the group's Trinidad build-out, JMMB Express Finance has begun to turn around its losses while continuing to expand in consumer finance, forging alliances with over 20 merchants, while JMMB Investments focuses on its new wealth management division. The banking arm will be expanding its focus on its SME strategy as it attempts to grow market share.

The group has grown significantly since being listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange in 2003 as Jamaica Money Market Brokers under Donna Duncan-Scott, with an asset base of $61.2 billion and net profits of $1.5 billion.

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