Jamaica - Country Commercial Guide
eCommerce
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Assessment of Current Buyer Behavior in Market

With a population of almost 3 million people, Jamaica is an emerging consumer market with a growing ecommerce sector.  Jamaica has a relatively robust telecommunications infrastructure and has one of the highest mobile phone penetrations in the world.  The country has therefore become an attractive location for information and communications technology firms to set-up business process outsourcing operations.  While internet access is increasing, a “digital divide” still exists.

The last census conducted in 2017 found that 35 percent of Jamaicans have access to computers and 84 percent of households have mobile phones.  Access to internet is on an upward trend, with Jamaica’s ranking in the World Economic Forum’s 2017-18 Global Competitiveness Index at 89 out of 137 for internet users as a percentage of the population, 71 for fixed broadband internet connections, and 74 for mobile broadband internet connections.  These numbers would have increased significantly during the pandemic as most Jamaicans were forced to operate from home. 

Online commerce is becoming more common, particularly amongst larger companies.  These companies are more likely to have a web presence to market their products or services, in addition to using social media channels.  Small and medium sized companies tend to rely on free social media platforms  for marketing opportunities.  There are companies offering e-commerce domestically, as well as for cross-border sales.  For companies offering online commerce, online payments can be made via credit card, paypal, online banking, or bill payment services.

The domestic MultiLink network allows over 1.7 million debit cards to be used by customers to electronically access their funds for payment on a 24 hour / 7 day per week basis. The network operations are geared to financial inclusion for retail payments and features high availability, high reliability, and some of the lowest transaction fees in the hemisphere. Local Financial Intuitions also support debit and credit cards of international brands that allow customers, from other parts of the world, to use Jamaican terminals.  Likewise Jamaican customers, with the additional support of the international network brands on their debit or cards, are able to use their cards overseas. In country, the Automated Clearing House (ACH) permits easy low-cost inter-bank transfers by check as well as by direct electronic payments.  The Bank of Jamaica’s (central bank) operated Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system is the national Large Value Payment System that handles large value exchange and financial settlement for all other payment networks.

Local eCommerce Sales Rules & Regulations

In 2007, the E-transaction Act came into effect, providing the legal framework for secured electronic commerce.  Since then, e-commerce has grown in significance, with a larger number of businesses (particularly utilities and banks) offering the option to pay bills online or via mobile phone.  Jamaicans with U.S. dollar credit cards also make online purchases from U.S. based companies.

A number of mobile payments services entered the market in the past five years.  The Bank of Jamaica’s regulatory framework for mobile payments, called “Guidelines for Electronic Retail Payment Services,”  came into effect April 2013.