My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: October 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015

How JUTC will earn JA$30 million per day from JUTC Prepaid SmarterCard Launch

“We have tried to clone the exact situation for the successful prepaid top-up phone- cards, which means in the same way that E-Pins has a distribution network for top- up of telephone cards, our Smarter Cards will be available through the same network. So, when you go to top up your phone-card, you can now buy a prepaid bus card,”

Managing Director of the JUTC, Colin Campbell, commenting on the Prepaid Smarter Card rollout on Friday October 30th 2015

Not fond of the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) SmarterCards?

I personally do not like the JUTC SmarterCard especially as you have to give up so much personal information as per my compliant in my blog article entitled “JUTC's AVL and Chaos on Back to School Day – How JUTC's Automatic Vehicle Locator may placate Smartphone toting Commuters who ask Are we There Yet”.

That was back on Monday, September 1st, 2014 and it was so bad I had to go back the following Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 after I went back home to get the required identification in order to get the SmarterCard.

So wouldn't it be nice if you could buy cash for your SmarterCard like you add credit to your smartphone? Also wouldn't it be nice if that money could be spent to purchase other things, like a Debit Card?

This is exactly what the JUTC has done, partnering with Transactions E-Pins, a mobile money provider to create a paper based Prepaid SmarterCard as reported in the article “Another cashless option for JUTC commuters”, published Saturday, October 31, 2015, The Jamaica Observer

The Prepaid Smarter Card was launched on Friday October 30th 2015 at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre by Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Omar Davies. The idea is that it'll win over skeptical adults like me who pay JA$120 by making adding money to your SmartetCard more like topping up your smartphone.

In addition to the Prepaid SmarterCard Service, the JUTC is also extending the special JA$100 fare until Thursday December 31st 2015 as reported in the article “JUTC extends special fare”, published Saturday October 31, 2015, RJR News Online.

In the process, they hope to increase revenue to the JUTC, to quote Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Omar Davies: “Utilising this cashless system moves us towards a greater percentage of the fare being seen in the treasury of the JUTC”.

With some 255,000 commuters who travel on the JUTC daily, this translates to JA$30,600,000 per day of additional revenue for the JUTC.

So how does this Prepaid SmarterCard Work?

How JUTC will earn JA$30 million per month from JUTC Prepaid SmarterCard Launch

JUTC and Transaction E-pins will partner to sell Prepaid Smarter Card at eighty one (81) various locations through the KMTR (Kingston and Metropolitan Transport Center) and comes in the following denominations:

1.      JA$300
2.      JA$600
3.      JA$900
4.      JA$1,800

It works exactly like it sounds; you go to your regular locations as well as additional locations created by Transactions E-Pins and buy a thermally printed Prepaid SmarterCard to pay your fare on the bus.

So alas, no this isn’t a case where you can top up your SmarterCard by dialing a special USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) Code on your smartphone e.g. *121*#.

Rather it’s really a convenience for infrequent travelers on JUTC buses won don't want to invest in a SmarterCard but don't want to walk with Cash as noted in the article “JUTC introduces another cashless pre-paid paper card”, published Friday May 15, 2015, RJR News Online.

The money purchased is transferrable to your next Prepaid SmarterCard or to a regular plastic SmarterCard. Digicel is apparently going to be among the locations to sell the Prepaid SmarterCard, as they'll be part of a soft launch during Saturday October 31st 2015 and Sunday November 1st 2015.

This sounds very similar to the idea I'd suggested after I'd been frustrated with the process of getting a JUTC SmarterCard last year in September as written in my blog article entitled “JUTC SmarterCard Launch not very Smart – Options for KMTR commuters needed to purchase and top-up SmarterCard before Cashless Sunday”.  

The difference with my idea was that it involved being able to top up your SmarterCard using a USSD Code on your cellphone or smartphone using either your Debit Card or a Mobile Money Platform.

So does the JUTC have anything else up their sleeve for Jamaican this Christmas 2015?

JUTC needs to launch a JUTC App - Why Mobile money AVL with Free Wi-Fi are potential perks for JUTC commuters

‏First off, I’m glad to finally see the JUTC taking my suggestion.

Hopefully to, they'll also implement the AVL (Automatic Vehicle Locator) as demonstrated by JUTC IT Manager Brian Tulloch as show in the video below.

Would be a great complement to JUTC Bus routes finally being on Google Transit in Google Maps as described in my blog article entitled “JUTC Google Transit from UWI Computer Science Department - Why Google Maps is the next step towards an AVL”.

Combining both of these great perks into a JUTC App would also make it possible for a future secure smartphone based Mobile money platform to pay your fare on the JUTC Bus.

This JUTC App will thus allow the commuter to not only to locate where specific Bus for their route is at the moment as explained in my blog article entitled “JUTC's AVL and Chaos on Back to School Day – How JUTC's Automatic Vehicle Locator may placate Smartphone toting Commuters who ask Are we There Yet” but also pay their fare with this JUTC app.

Best of all, such a JUTC App could also be used to authenticate users on a Free Wi-Fi Service in the future as described in my blog article entitled “Wi-Fi on JUTC Buses in September 2015 - How extended 2015 Summer Promotion will increase revenue by JA$4 million daily”.

Folks, with this announcement of Prepaid SmarterCard, anything is possible for the JUTC!

19 Babies now dead from Klebsiella and Serratia bacterial infections - How More Babies will Die as Drought continues

“There are misery index issues that still impact the sector, and I admit to that. There are some challenges in the sector, and I admit to that. But let us not begin to beat the system down for our people to lose confidence in a system that is better than many other beyond the Caribbean,”

Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, confirmed this in Parliament on Monday October 26th 2015

The Health Sector seems to be in the spotlight all of a sudden. I'm sure my fellow Miconians at the MICO College University where I'm doing my Professional Diploma in Teaching know why I have no intention of having Children in ever!

Jamaica seems captivated by the death of some eighteen (18) prematurely born babies from Klebsiella and Serratia bacterial infections as I'd reported in my blog article entitled “18 Jamaican babies die from Klebsiella and Serratia - How lack of Water caused UHWI and Cornwall Hospital Babies Deaths

It's now been confirmed that a total of nineteen (19) out of the forty two (42) babies have died from Klebsiella and Serratia bacterial infections, the addition death occurring at the Cornwall Regional Hospital as reported in the article “Another Baby Dies At Cornwall Regional Hospital, Bacterial Outbreak Blamed”, published Tuesday October 27, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner

Minster of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, confirmed this in Parliament on Monday October 26th 2015 with some additional statistics on the death of the babies as reported in the article “19th baby Dies”, published Wednesday, October 28, 2015 By Balford Henry Senior staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

According to Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson since June 2015:

1.      483 babies have been admitted to hospitals’ special care nurseries
2.      45 babies infected with Klebsiella and Serratia bacterial infections
3.      9.3% of babies infected with Klebsiella and Serratia bacterial infections
4.      19 babies died from Klebsiella and Serratia bacterial infections
5.      42.2% of babies infected with Klebsiella and Serratia bacterial infections

He also made an interesting mention about the weight of the babies:

1.      7 months or younger
2.      0.91 Kg (2lb) weight

Thus implies that they were probably prematurely born baby or “preemie” as Jamaican call babies with low birth weight, which would explain the early time of death. Hopefully an autopsy will reveal how exactly did the sepsis take hold within the babies immune system, as it's not clear why these prematurely born babies died when other lived.

19th Babies dies at Cornwall Regional Hospital - Call for Resignation ignored

Still, this was hidden from the public, the main argument of the Opposition.

So far only the CEO of the UHWI (University Hospital of the West Indies), Dr Cecil White has resigned on Tuesday October 27th 2015 as reported in the article “University Hospital Of The West Indies Boss Resigns; First Casualty After Baby Deaths”, published Tuesday October 27, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.  

Additionally two (2) other managers at the UHWI have also resigned, bringing to three (3) the number of persons who have demitted office over this incident even as Minister of Health Dr. Fenton Ferguson refuses to resign as reported in the article “Two UHWI Senior Managers To Resign Over #DeadBabiesScandal”, published Monday October 26, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.

However, the Minster of Health Dr. Fenton Ferguson is yet to resign, as he claims that calls for him to step down are politically motivated as reported in the article “Health Minister Rejects Calls To Resign Over Baby Death Scandal”, Published Thursday October 22, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner

Still calls are growing stronger for him to resign as a group, #AllBabiesMatter, made up of mostly women, is calling for his resignation, despite strenuous support from his constituents as reported in the article “#AllBabiesMatter - Online group calls for health minister’s resignation”, published Saturday, October 31, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

The CMO (Chief Medical Officer) in the Ministry of Health Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse is also yet to resign.

This despite evidence and her admission that she'd received the reports of the death of the nineteen babies on Monday September 7th 2015 as reported in the article “CMO Will Not Resign As A Result Of Dead Babies Scandal”, published Thursday October 29, 2015 by Edmond Campbell, The Jamaica Gleaner

Public Hospitals have made no changes to prevent infection spread - Statistical Data implies expansion of rate of spread

Nothing has actually been reported as changing at the UHWI and the Cornwall Regional Hospital, which still have the problems as reported in the health Audit in my blog article entitled “Audit of Public Health Care System revealed - How the Minister of Health plans to correct these problems”.

This makes it harder to believe the CMO and the Minster of Health, as they’ve yet to report of improvements to the Public Hospitals that would imply that they are acting on the Health Audit, which would reduce the possibility of even more babies becoming infected with Klebsiella and Serratia bacterial infections.

Worse, the emphasis on the death of prematurely born babies implies that the Minster of Health is suggesting that these babies were fated to die. It also sound as if only strong babies are supposed to survive, as they are less than the required 10% to be statistically significant.

Albeit true, the fact that the information appears to be hidden from the public for so long is troubling to the Public. So too is reports of doctors who spoke about the problems with the Health Sector being prevented from practicing medicine!

Albeit a statistical anomaly, the hidden nature suggests that there may be more than the number of deaths reported. Also the number of infected is higher than 10% and nothing has been reported as having changed at the UHWI and Cornwall Regional Hospital to prevent the spread.

We may soon hear of an expansion of this infection to more than the forty two (42) and even more hospital as the drought continues and the rains fall, setting up Jamaica for other diseases as predicted by Dr. Michael Taylor in my blog article entitled “Dr. Taylor links Climate Change to increase in Diseases in Jamaica - Dengue, Pink Eye and Zika Virus coming and Asthma rising”.

Something tell me this Health Sector Scandal of 2015 will keep expanding as more and more of these forty two (42) babies infected with the Klebsiella and Serratia bacterial infection start dying.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why Digicel Mon Cash Rebranding for Haiti means Mobile Money coming in 2016

Digicel may be ramping up for a big push into Mobile Money in Jamaica as a part of their second IPO filing in 2016.

So says my sources, who recently contacted me with regards to Digicel Groups' rebranding of their Mobile Money platform Tcho-Tcho mobile as “Mon Cash” in Haiti on Tuesday August 18th 2015 as reported in the article “Digicel relaunches Mobile Money product in Haiti”, published Wednesday, August 19, The Jamaica Observer.

The news service means that the 1,600,000 Haitians who do not have a bank account now have the ability to do more transactions once they register for free using a valid government ID: 

1.      Domestic money transfers
2.      Pay bills
3.      Buying Mobile Credit
4.      Receiving Remittances

So will a Digicel based Mobile Money Service that I’d predicted for December 2014 as I’d predicted in my blog article entitled “Digicel's Mobile Money Service in 2014 - Haiti Tcho Tcho with ScotiaBank heralds Cashless Society by 2015” be coming to Jamaica in 2015, possibly powered by Scotia bank  ?

According to my sources, by 2016!

Digicel Mon Cash Rebranding for Haiti - Remittances boost for revenues before Second IPO

Based on my sources, Digicel may soon launch their Mobile Money Service in Jamaica as a means to make paying for everything from Credit to Cable Bill for their up and coming Fiber Optic Cable service Digicel Play as mentioned in my blog article entitled “US$5.5 billion Liberty Global purchase of CWC's FLOW Jamaica - Why Digicel Play will truly Liberate Cable Subscribers”.

Also, my sources have told me that it may not be called Mon Cash in Jamaica, but might go by a different name altogether. My sources also pointed out to me that after they had withdrawn their IPO launch as announced in the article “Digicel postpones IPO launch”, published Tuesday, October 06, 2015, The Jamaica Observer and “Digicel Drops IPO Plans”, published Wednesday October 7, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner, they've been looking for new source of Revenue.

Their up and coming Fiber Optic Quad play service of Fixed line, Broadband Internet, Cable Television and Wireless Broadband for Mobile Telephony is one potential revenue earner. This is especially now that they’ve purchased SportsMax and rebranded it Digicel SportsMax as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Digicel Sportsmax NBA deal means fiber and 4G LTE coming this year

Already, Telstar Cable @TelstarCableLtd in a tweet on October 15th 2015 endorsed the name Digicel Play, dropping a big hint that Digicel is soon to launch their Digicel Fiber service!

A quick look at Digicel’s website suggests that they’ve pretty much quietly launched Digicel Fiber as shown below.

So too is their recent advertised push into Prepaid with Digicel MoreSmart Postpaid Data Plan as described in my blog article entitled “Why Digicel Smart and Value Postpaid Plans upgrade to Smart Postpaid Plans geared towards smartphones”.
So will Digicel be launching a Mobile Money service to shore up their revenues for another IPO push in 2016? They might, especially as Remittance is on the rise!

Digicel Mobile Money inevitable - Why Digicel Mobile Money competition coming against Supreme Ventures and Grace Kennedy in 2016

A Mobile Money service in Jamaica may not seem likely.

Jamaica has a population of only 2.7 million people, 20% of Haiti's 10 million strong populations. But we do have a large percentage of Jamaicans who are unbanked i.e. having no access to a bank account.

According to chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), Colin Bullock at the Caribbean Group of Securities Regulations conference in St Ann on Tuesday April 21st 2015, the percentage of unbanked in Jamaica strands at 30% of the population as noted in the article “30 per cent of Jamaicans have no bank account”, published Friday, April 24, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

Supreme Ventures knows this, which is why they are now tapping into the Mobile Gaming Market with their recent upgrade to the IFLEX Betting Platform announced on Wednesday October 21 2015 as reported in my blog article entitled “Supreme Ventures Limited IFLEX Betting Platform Upgrade - How Mobile Gambling via Smartphone is finally coming to Jamaica”.

Supreme Ventures will most likely be using and Mobile Money Platform CONEC that's based on a partnership between JCCUL (Jamaica Co-Operative Credit Union League) and Mozido Jamaica Limited with Paymaster as their Retail Payment Service Providers as explained in my blog article entitled “JCUES now CONEC Mobile Wallet - Why CONEC Mobile Wallet still inconvenient despite Paymaster and Remittances in the JCCUL-Mozido Jamaica mix”.

Their IFLEX Betting Platform may also allow them to tap into the lucrative US$2.2 billion Remittances market that has players in the financial sector like Grace Kennedy interested in Mobile Money.

Grace Kennedy, which handles nearly 50% of the US$2.2 billion Remittances that pass through Jamaica each year as note in my blog article entitled “World Bank's Global Remittance Slowdown - Why Jamaica's Remittance will slow in 2016 as Saudi Arabia Runs out of US Dollars”.

They too, are in a unique position to also gain control of the market, now that NCB (National Commercial Bank) has stopped being an agent for MoneyGram as noted in my blog article entitled “NCB Under Pressure cuts ties with Remittance Agent MoneyGram - Mobile Money, Remittance and E-Commerce Triple Play Services by September 2014”.

So will Digicel go after the US$2.2 billion Remittance Goldmine via Mobile Money after they launch their 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) Network as detailed in my Geezam blog article entitled “Why RJR HDTV coming against Digicel and LIME 4G LTE and FTTH”.

Will Mobile Money be an option in the future to pay for Digicel MoreSmart Postpaid services or even your Digicel Play Cable Bill as Apps on your smartphone as I’d predicted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Why Digicel blocking Google ads may be the rise of Digicel App World”.

2016 is only two (2) months away and we might hear more about Mobile Money and other upcoming services from the Bigger, Better Network in December 2015!!!

JA$4.2 Million Meadowbrook High Solar System - Why JPS Co's Net Billing suspension killing Jamaican Alternative Energy Sector

“Our average electricity bills were ranging as high as $500,000 and this was becoming a strain on our limited funds, so we were more than ready to make the energy switch with ATL”

Meadowbrook high Principal Michael Peart commenting on ATL Energy's 25-kW Photovoltaic system installed on their auditorium

Solar Power should be used to power all School across Jamaica, as it helps to reduce their electricity Bill.

So it's nice to know that Meadowbrook High, which has been around for 57 years, has finally decided to go Solar with the installation of their Photovoltaic system as reported in the article “Meadowbrook High plugs into the sun”, published Wednesday, October 28, 2015, The Jamaica Observer

The JA$4.2 million system was installed by ATL Energy, the Solar Power arm of ATL Limited formed back in 2012 as reported in my blog article entitled “ATL goes into Alternative Energy at the same time JPSCo goes into Retail of Energy Saving Gear”. 

Meadowbrook High's Photovoltaic system, which represent Phase One of Principal Michael Peart's plans to go towards Alternative Energy hatched some three (3) years ago, has some interesting specs:

1.      84 solar panels
2.      5 Grids tie inverters
3.      25-kW system

The 84 solar panels, which are mounted on the school’s auditorium, will generate 30% of Meadowbrook High's electricity during peak periods. This will significantly bite into their gigantic electricity bill of JA$500,000, which I suspect maybe mostly from Air conditioning and lighting.

Apparently to sweeten the pot with their new customer, ATL also installed a 9,000 BTU Inverter AC unit, which is an energy saving design no doubt. Head of engineering at ATL Energy, Mark Blair, is certainly happy about their new customer going solar, quote: “I am always proud to work with and assist educational institutions take strides to become more eco-efficient. This teaches future generations that energy is to be conserved and to think outside the box as there are alternate methods outside of traditional energy supplies”.

Best of all, they can make money from the sale of Electricity to JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company) via the Net Billing arrangement in the summer when the school is not in session.

Net Billing and Jamaica - JPS Co need to restart program to encourage Alternative Energy industry

JPS Co's Net Billing facility has some 336 applications and 120 systems interconnected.

However, the evolution of the Alternative Energy Industry in Jamaica is however is dependent on JPS Co resuming the Net Billing arrangement, which was suspended on Friday May 1st 2015 as reported in the article entitled “Net Billing Programme is overdue”, published October 2 2015, Go-Jamaica

Net Billing allows owners of photovoltaic systems to make money from the excess power generated by their systems that's sent to the JPS Co Grid. If they have multiple properties, they can use Power Wheeling to utilize that power sent to the grid at a different location without incurring costs other than the meter as well as transmission costs on JPS Co's Network.

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell had promised during a PCJ (Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica) Schools Energy Programme awards ceremony, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Friday June 26, 2015 to resume the Net billing arrangements as reported in the article “Gov’t to resume net billing arrangement”, published Tuesday, June 30, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.

To date, Net Billing has yet to be reinstated!

Net Billing and JSEA – Why Alternative Energy Sector to go bankrupt in 2016

The current removal of the Net Billing facility had caught the JSEA (Jamaica Solar Energy Association) by surprise due to its sudden nature as reported in the article “Suspension of net billing irks Solar Energy Association”, published Thursday, May 21, 2015 by Alphea Saunders, The Jamaica Observer.

The JSEA knew that the Net Billing arrangement with the JPS Co was a two (2) year program that was given a 1 year extension since 2013. Their expectation that since three years had passed, it would have been extended through 2015 to 2016. But this has certainly not been the case, now that the JPS Co has suddenly cut off the Net Billing Facility.

Its removal will make it difficult for members of the Alternative Energy Sector to sell systems to customers, as Net billing is a selling point of Photovoltaic systems. As a result, many who have heavily invested in the Alternative Energy Sector might begin to incur huge debts.

This is due to the inability to sell their Photovoltaic Systems because of the lock of a clear regulatory guideline on Net Billing and Power Wheeling as argued in the article “Renewable Energy Providers Fear Millions In Debt Over Suspension Of Net Billing Process”, published Thursday May 14, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner
So albeit a brilliant innovation, Meadowbrook High will have to wait until JPS Co reinstates the Net Billing Program before Phase 2, which I suspect means taking the entire school off the JPS Co's Network, can commence!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How Vaavud plans to introduce the first hyperlocal weather forecasts by 2016

Predicting the weather is no easy task.

But Vaavud, portable wind meter or anemometer, aims to do just that by drawing up on the power of the crowd to create the first hyperlocal weather forecasts by 2016 as explained in the article “This Whirling Smartphone Gadget Could Be Your Next Weather Forecaster”, published September 15th 2015 b Hilary Brueck, Forbes

Founder of Vaavud wind meters, Thomas Helms and his two other friends had successfully kickstarted their idea of a portable anemometer back in April 2013 as explained in my blog article entitled “Vaavud’s Portable Anemometer is a Kickstarter Project that’s Gone with the GoPro Wind”.

The Vaavud anemometer uses that uses your smartphone's magnetometer to track the rotation of the plastic attachment that fits into your smartphone's microphone jack. Vaavud’s Founder Thomas Helms want to crowdsource all that data from the international crowd of Vaavud anemometers customers in 170 countries to crate real-time prediction of weather conditions in a particular area within the next 6-12 hours.

This concept, called hyperlocal weather forecasts, would make it possible to say, predict if it'll rain in Jamaica by simply canvassing the Wind data from several other owners of Vaavud anemometers. The only problem with this is that people might not be so enthusiastic to be always measuring the wind sped all the time using their smartphones.

Also, they may not always take the measurements at the same time every day at the same place.

Still the Vaavud is an interesting measuring tool that sailors, drone pilots, crane operators and wanna-be meteorologists will find interesting to play with until 2016, when Vaavud rolls out their hyperlocal weather prediction feature.

By then they should also released an updated version of the anemometer that can not only wind speed, but also air pressure and temperature independently of their smartphone, making the weather data collected by their crowd of 130,000 people across 170 countries a lot more useful.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

World Bank's Global Remittance Slowdown - Why Jamaica's Remittance will slow in 2016 as Saudi Arabia Runs out of US Dollars

Christmas was looking bright as online purchases are on the rise, possibly because of increased Remittances as predicted in my blog article entitled “Jamaica Customs Agency Stats - Why US$100 Duty Free shopping coming as Jamaicans shopping online this Christmas”. 

But it looks like I’ve spoken to soon as New Years in 2016 isn't look so rosy after, if you have relatives working in Russia and Europe.  

That's because the World Bank is projecting lower than normal Remittance outflows from these countries to Developing World the Caribbean as reported in the article “Low Oil Prices, Weak EU Economy To Slow Remittance Inflows Further - World Bank”, published Sunday October 25, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner

These countries’ economies are dependent on Oil which is now sinking in price below US$50 thanks to OPEC (Oil Producing and Exporting countries) trying to stop the USA extracting Oil as reported in my blog article entitled “US$50 per barrel Oil from OPEC – Why Ford Motors is predicting a bright future for All-Electric Vehicles”.

Because of the reduced US Dollars being made from Oil, these countries are restricting US dollar outflows. The result is less remittance is coming from Jamaican migrants working not only in the Russia, Europe but also the US of A and even the Cayman Islands!

But because the Oil production business is global, this reduction in foreign exchange outflows affects not only remittances but also countries that act as repositories for US Dollars.

Cayman Islands is no exception, with the JN Money Service experiencing a reduction in US Dollars available for remittance purposes according to the article “JN Money Service Hit By USD Shortage In Cayman”, Published Wednesday October 14, 2015 by Tameka Gordon, The Jamaica Gleaner.   

But does any of this affect Jamaica?

World Bank Statistics - Jamaica ok as Global Remittances are trending downwards

According to projections by the World Bank in their Migration and Development Brief published Thursday October 22nd 2015, the outlook is gloom for the Developing World:

1.      US$435 billion in remittances will be send in 2015
2.      0.9% increase in remittances sent in 2014

Compared to 2014, the figures indicate the start of a gentle decline:

1.      2% increase in Remittance in 2015 figures over 2014 figures
2.      3.3% increase in Remittance in 2014 figures over 2015 figures
3.      7.1% increase in Remittance for the overall period from 2010 to 2013

Good to note here that this is a decrease in the originally projected figure from April 2015 of US$440 billion. Also, this decline in 2015 increase compared to 2014 increase represents a decline of 1.3 percentage points.

So is this global slowdown affecting Jamaica? Hardly, if the figures from the JCC (Jamaica Chamber of Commerce) Conference Board's Survey of Consumer Confidence published in July 2015 are to be believed.

Jamaica's US$2 billion dollar Remittance Golden Harvest - Households addicted to remittances

Jamaica isn't doing too badly, as we get some US$2 billion in remittances each year on average, moving from US$1.8 billion six years ago to $2.2 billion last year.

Jamaica's remittance inflows are pretty impressive:

1.      US$985.7 million up to June 2015
2.      4.1% increase over a similar period in 2014
3.      US$528 million for the first Quarter of 2015
4.      2.6% increase over a similar period in 2014

In fact more households are receiving remittance from abroad, with 38% of households receiving remittances for the first six months of 2015 as reported in the article “More Households Getting Remittances And In Larger Amounts”, Published Friday July 17, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.   

These stats for the first six months of 2015 come from the JCC (Jamaica Chamber of Commerce) Conference Board's Survey of Consumer Confidence published in July 2015 and make for interesting reading:

1.      36% of households that admitted receiving remittances in 2014
2.      38% is equivalent to 2008 remittance level

The level of Remittance is also on the increase as well:

1.      39% of consumers reporting are getting more money in their remittances in 2015
2.      33% of consumers reporting are getting more money in their remittances in 2014
3.      26% of consumers reporting are getting more money in their remittances in 2011

Households are also receiving remittance on time when requested from relatives:

1.      42% reported receiving remittances when needed in 2015
2.      38% reported receiving remittances when needed in 2014
3.      33% reported receiving remittances when needed in 2013

These remittances were received based on requests sent to relatives to quote Don Anderson, leader publisher for the Survey of Consumer Confidence, quote: “The prevailing trend continued towards fewer regular monthly transfers, with the shift towards remittances based on need”. 

This is reflected in the monthly receipts for Remittance decline, meaning persons are requesting remittance on a weekly basis as opposed to monthly to survive payday:

1.      21% reported monthly receipts for first six months of 2015
2.      24% reported monthly receipts for first six months of 2014
3.      28% reported monthly receipts for first six months of 2013

Because of the higher cost of living in Jamaica, even though Jamaicans are asking for and getting more in their remittances, they are saving less of what they get:

1.      57% never save any of their remittance in 2015
2.      34% saved some of their remittance in 2015
3.      9% always saved their remittance in 2015
4.      50% saved some of their remittance in 2008
5.      11% always saved their remittance in 2008

Ok, so what do households spend their remittance on?

According to the JCC Conference Board's Survey of Consumer Confidence, the spending patterns have remained largely unchanged over the past four (4) years from 2011 to 2015:

1.      50% on general household expenses
2.      18% on school fees
3.      38% on personal expenses
4.      34% on Utility Bills

Good to note that Utility bills have actually increased, up from 25% in 2012. But what does the future hold?

Saudi Arabia to run out of Oil - China hoarding Gold and so will Saudi Arabia in 2016

Based on the World Banks reckoning, we might see a few countries start running out of US dollars as their expenditure outstrips their US dollar inflows from Oil.

Already the IMF (International Monetary Fund) is projecting that Saudi Arabia and a few Gulf State countries will run out of US dollars in five years time unless they cut back on their expenditures as reported in the article “Saudi Arabia to run out of cash in less than 5 years”, published October 26th 2015 by Matt Egan, CNN Money.

Still, the IMF report may be a bit hasty, as Saudi Arabia is already diversifying their economy away from Oil. Efforts have already begun to bear fruit form them in the form of Venture Capitalism, tourism, Real Estate Investments and Nuclear Energy.

But ultimately the lower oil prices regime being implemented by OPEC will affect the US of A dollar.

Lower Oil prices means that they cannot use Oil as an investment hedge and as investors will have to wait until the price rises again. That means they'll have to depend on Gold as a standard to prop up the US Dollar. 

A weaker dollar will be the result as Gold prices are projected to fall as China is importing more Gold from Hong Kong, building up their reserves and thereby lowering its overall value as noted in “China is buying Gold again and that's not a good sign for its stock market”, published 27th October 2015 by Ben Moshinsky, Business Insider and “China Gold Imports Climb on Pre-Holiday Buying, Lower Prices”, published October 27, 2015 by Bloomberg News.

With no other valuable commodity against which to value the US Dollar, in the next five years, the US Government will have to restrict US Dollar outflows in the form of Remittances. That means Jamaica’s remittance boom will soon be a bust as the US Dollar shrinks in value and the US Treasury tries to hold on to its dollars to keep its currency from falling with the price of Gold!

This will start to occur by 2016 as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States will also start hoarding Gold in a bid to push up the value of their currency, thus decreasing the US Dollar in the process, which is based on the Gold Standard!

Monday, October 26, 2015

US$5.5 billion Liberty Global purchase of CWC's FLOW Jamaica - Why Digicel Play will truly Liberate Cable Subscribers

“Liberty Global confirms that it is in discussions with the board of CWC regarding a possible offer for the entire issued and to-be-issued share capital of CWC”

Liberty Global in a statement on Thursday October 22nd 2015 as they attempt to buy out CWC (Cable & Wireless Communications) PLC

Even as FLOW Jamaica is dealing with an increase in users dissatisfaction with their service since they officially became FLOW as reported in my blog article entitled “74 Percent increase in FLOW Jamaica problems to OUR - FLOW's infrastructure problems as Digicel Fibre is coming”, a new Drama is unfolding

The Parent company of FLOW Jamaica, CWC (Cable & Wireless Communications) PLC is now involved in negotiations to buy a stake in the company as reported in the article “Flow In Buy-Out Talks, published Friday”, October 23, 2015 BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

The potential stakeholder is Liberty Global PLC owned by billionaire American business executive John C. Malone, which is plunking down some US$5.5 billion to acquire CWC PLC. Interestingly, CWC PLC has a market value of US$4 billion (£2.6 billion) in London, which balloons to US$8 billion once debt is included.

US$5.4 billion in debt is a lot to sacrifice just to get access to a company. But for John C. Malone, Chairman of Liberty Media, Liberty Global, and Liberty Interactive thinks he might have a chance at getting CWC PLC, having been involved in large acquisitions before.

If this deal goes through by November 2015, the reign of the once might CWC Telecommunications group, which has been operating for 150 years, will come to an end.

Liberty Global to purchase CWC's FLOW Jamaica - 6 million customers in the Caribbean to be Liberated

Liberty Global is doing what's natural for a predatory company of its size; expanding their presence in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

Though they're not a Telecom operator, they do have interest in Subscriber Television operations around the world in 14 countries with some 27 million customers.

They also have a stake in Cable Television operations in the Caribbean, as John Malone was a shareholder in Columbus International Inc, the company that CWC PLC had purchased for US$1.9 billion in cash and stock in November 2014 as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “LIME Jamaica Goes with the FLOW thanks to Caribbean-wide Survey”.

His stake in Columbus International Inc has landed him a 13% voting stake in CWC PLC.  But typical of billionaires, they want it all as evidenced by previous Cable Company acquisitions around the world.

One such notable deal is the acquisition of UK's Virgin Media Inc, which they purchased for US$23.3bn (£15bn) in February 2013 as reported in the article “Virgin Media bought for £15bn by Liberty Global”, published Wednesday 6 February 2013 by Juliette Garside, The UK Guardian  and “Liberty Global to buy Virgin Media for $23.3bn”, published 6 February 2013, BBC News.

 The other was the purchase of Dutch cable operators Ziggo NV for US$9.4 billion as reported in the article “Liberty Global to Buy Ziggo for $9.4 Billion”, published Jan. 27, 2014 By ROBIN VAN DAALEN, Wall Street Journal and “Malone’s Liberty Global to Buy Dutch Cable Provider Ziggo”, published January 27, 2014 by Kristen Schweizer and Elco van Groningen, Bloomberg.  

Combined, these purchases have made Liberty Global the largest international cable operator. So a purchase of CWC PLC to get access to FLOW Jamaica makes sense, as they'd potential gain access to some six (6) million subscribers for Cable, TV, Broadband Internet, POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) and 3G Mobile Internet in the following countries and regions:

1.      Caribbean
2.      Panama,
3.      Monaco
4.      Seychelles

But if he already owns half the world, what does Liberty Global want with a mere six million additional subscribers?

Liberty Global Subscriber Cable Domination – Flow Jamaica to get LiLAC Treatment

Apparently the Chairman of Liberty Media John C. Malone suffers from an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as he likes things being organized.

So to him, to sacrifice US$5.5 billion to acquire CWC PLC and its US$5.4 billion in debt is all so that he can organize Subscriber Cable service across the world. Liberty Global has also taken a fancy to “quad play” services and hopes to expand this vision in all its territories, which span Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

To quote Liberty Global Chief Executive Mike Fries, they think they can solve the jigsaw puzzle in the Caribbean as it relates to Cable Services, quote: “......the region as a whole requires massive consolidation. It is fragmented. It is underpenetrated. It is inefficient. If there was ever a part of the world that would benefit from the kind of things we do, in terms of bringing rational consolidation to these broadband connectivity platforms, we think this is”.

If by November 2015, CWC PLC gets purchased, Liberty Global, which already offers cable service in Puerto Rico and Chile, will house the FLOW Jamaica and FLOW Caribbean portions of under LiLAC, their stock ticker to track all their Latin American and Caribbean holdings.

Digicel Play as the counterweight to FLOWJamaica - Why Liberty Global may face stiff competition

So what of Digicel Play, the rebranded version of Telstar Cable that Digicel had acquired in September 2014 as part of their Caribbean Wide Cable Network as described in my blog article entitled “Digicel officially acquires Telstar Cable – Why Digicel is launching IPTV Streaming over 4G LTE using 20 Years of Cable TV History”?

Turns out they're rebranding Telstar Cable as Digicel Play and are rolling out their services in Jamaica, Dominica and PNG. I've been unable to locate any Jamaica Gleaner or Jamaica Observer articles on Digicel Play and ironically only my Geezam blog article entitled “Digicel Sportsmax NBA deal means fiber and 4G LTE coming this year”.

So says a very sparse tweet from Television Jamaica @televisionjam on Monday June 29th 2015

Later on October 15th 2015, Telstar Cable @TelstarCableLtd has endorsed the name Digicel Play in a very simple tweet linked to a Facebook posting

Since October 2015, I've been spotting Vans rebranded with the Digicel Play Logo and so too have a few Twitter fans such as Ruby Wu-Tang Clan @francinederby:

I've also met Digicel Play representatives on foot walking through Swallowfield signing up potential customers. The Twitter chatter once you do a search for “Digicel Play” shows a lot of interest in the service, with some even posting some insane Broadband Internet Speed test results for Digicel Play as pointed out by AleJancro @Russ_FTW:

However, it was Richie @Richie_FUUU that finally gave me some information that'll be the basis of another blog article:

Hopefully by then Digicel Play, already in Dominica, Turks and Caicos and PNG (Papau New Guinea) and slowly rolling out in Jamaica would have launched to provide a counterweight to this coming Juggernaut of Global Cable by Christmas 2015.

Liberty Global may be coming to organize and Liberate the Caribbean Subscriber Television scene, but what will this means for FLOW Jamaica subscriber exactly? Stay tuned to my blog

 Here’s the link: