MEMBERS of the small business community in the country have poured cold water on statistics coming out of J.E.T.S. Limited, the operator of the MultiLink payment system, that state that up to 95 per cent of people using the network for automated banking machine (ABM) and point-of-sales (POS) transactions are being satisfied, with one calling the data “hogwash”. The CEO of J.E.T.S. Limited, Edmundo Jenez, has however defended the figure saying those who contest it “do not understand”, and has sought to bring further clarification to the matter.
“I’ve never heard such hogwash,” one business operator said in response to the article which was shared amongst MSME Alliance members for response. “Nope… cause everybody complaining must be lying or seeing things?” another said while yet another said the data presented by J.E.T.S. Limited is nothing but “collective hallucinations”.
“Just went to four ABMs… two out of the four not working in central Sav,” another business operator added. Sav is the colloquial shortening for Savanna-La-Mar, the capital of Jamaica’s Westmoreland parish.
The story shared amongst members of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) also generated similar responses.
“This situation is very bad in St Ann where very few machines are issuing cash and these are mainly Scotia,” one member of the JMEA said.
“I’m an ABM user; they are often down. For example, at Loshusan, there are two Scotia (ABMs) and often one is down, and sometimes both. The US$-dispensing one often doesn’t have US [dollars]. Went to the Sagicor one on Hope Road last week and it was out of order too. The banks don’t want you to go into [their banking halls] but the ABMs are challenging,” another manufacturer pointed out.
“I went to six Scotia ABMs over two days last week to do a deposit. None was working. The ABMs not attached to bank locations are the problem. Scotia appears to be down more frequently than the others,” another replied.
Still more point out the same problem.
“I am extremely dissatisfied with this report. My Experience trying to get cash at ABMs is HORRIFIC. I MUST DRIVE AROUND TO SEVERAL ABMs BEFORE I CAN BE SUCCESSFUL. BOTH NCB AND BNS (are) TOTAL DISASTER. OBVIOUSLY, THIS DATA WAS COLLECTED IN ‘The Not A Real Place JA’,” another added. (The words in block are for emphasis and have been reproduced as written by Sunday Finance.)
Some called for whoever issued the report, that is J.E.T.S. Limited, to get a “credibility check”. Only two responders said their experience using an ABM recently was positive.
But Jenez, the J.E.T.S. boss who presented the data, argued that there is nothing wrong with it, and sought to bring more credibility to the figures following the outrage.
“When people tell you that what you are reporting is not true, it’s because they don’t understand,” Jenez told this reporter who pointed out the reactions to him. “We have transformed payments in Jamaica over the last 27 years, especially since we started MultiLink, and people are now able to access their money practically any time of day or night, anywhere in the island, and the whole of that system is running 24/7,” he said.
He went further to say that while the original data he provided showed that 95 per cent of the people using the MultiLink network is being satisfied, that satisfaction was almost universal during the height of the Christmas shopping season with between 99.76 per cent and 99.94 per cent of those using it getting through with the transaction.
“When someone uses the network, and they request money, we have a thing that we measure called the issuer database availability. Basically, it measures whether or not the bank on the other side of that transaction can respond to them. So, when you see that 99.94 per cent successful transaction, it means that out of every 100 [attempts], 99 per cent of the transactions are responded to correctly.” A correct response, he explained, means that the desired transaction was executed.
He went on to further clarify.
“I can only measure the transactions that are presented to the network [and] well over 95 per cent or higher of the people using the system get through without an issue.”
He acknowledged that sometimes machines run out of cash, but said those would not be registered on the system, because they would not be in use.
“Now, if a machine is not working, I will never see a transaction because the machine cannot create one,” Jenez said. He said his data is captured from machines which are actually working.
“When people go to the machines and draw all the cash, then [they] will be empty and [have] to be reloaded. Especially for the popular machines, they will run out of cash faster,” he stated.
He said the MultiLink system processes over four million transactions per month and “because the network has a high reliability and a high efficiency and all these wonderful things, does not mean some people are not able to generate a transaction because they go to an ABM and it is not working.”
But he said, “The vast majority of the people are not having that experience. You pointed out that even the BOJ didn’t have many complaints. And even when you look at social media, a lot of the people who are complaining are people who have a favourite machine, and they go at a time when there is a big demand and the machine is out of cash and hasn’t been restocked as yet.”
Still he stressed the data he presented is related to transactions that occur on the MultiLink network only, and not for propriety transactions â€“ that is, transactions that occur on a machine owned by the same bank which issued the debit cards.
“If a BNS card goes to a BNS terminal, I won’t see that [transaction]. I only see when, for example, an NCB card goes to a BNS terminal. Only when it goes between banks I see it,” he pointed out, arguing that he can only talk about data relating to the MultiLink network.
The MultiLink system, which commenced operations in June 1997, is owned and operated by commercial banks and select deposit-taking institutions. This is a shared electronic network allowing customers to transact payments at ABMs or POS machines against their own bank accounts.
Jenez said the MultiLink network handles between 25 per cent to 35 per cent of all transactions that happen in the country. Most bank customers, he said, prefer to use the ABMs for the banks which issued their debit cards. He added that he will try to do an analysis to see the percentage of terminals that are online each day to get a better picture of the overall system.
“We monitor the network availability for every institution and we calculate it daily and at the end of the month, any institution below a critical target is fined,” he continued saying that critical target is to ensure that at least 99 per cent of customers who attempt to use the system are successful on the first attempt.
“It is a measure of how effectively a customer experiences a network. It is absolutely critical for availability to be very high if people are to have faith in the network and use it. That is why the banks are fined when the availability of their system falls below the critical point,” he said without disclosing the fine or how often banks are fined for failing to process a customer transaction at an ABM or POS on the MultiLink network.
But he, however, added: “I want to believe the banks maintain the same standard and same quality of service for their customers using their own machines as they have to do with MultiLink.”