KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday February 22, 2018 – Jamaica’s leading information technology magnate has his sights set on starting the Caribbean’s first major Internet retailer business, like Amazon or Alibaba, focusing on products from the region.
Douglas Halsall, whose company Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS) is still in the midst of an effort to fully digitalize operations at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), recently spoke to the Jamaica Observer newspaper about his latest passion.
“The assault on the mall, like Amazon’s, will happen right here,” Halsall said. “I believe in George Bernard Shaw’s statement, that some men see things as they are and ask why. And I dream of things that never were and ask why not….I am saying, ‘let me make it happen. It’s going to happen. It must happen’.”
Halsall plans to combine his company’s wealth of knowledge about computer systems and various digital gadgets with the expertise that has become available to him through his partnerships in expanding the use of e-commerce technology with Indian and other e-commerce experts, to help Jamaica become the “poster child” for digital expansion in the Caribbean.
He had encountered a major obstacle, however, when he found that only about 14 per cent of Jamaicans use credit cards, which are necessary to access the Internet retail systems. However, Halsall did not let that hinder him.
One of his earlier partnerships led to the introduction of a mobile money platform called Quisk, through which customers of the National Commercial Bank (NCB) are able to carry out cashless transactions using a system implemented by California-based mobile payments leader Quisk, in association with AIS.
Quisk is a patent-pending cashless and cardless solution that enables any consumer with a cellphone to have a mobile wallet, allowing them to make everyday purchases safely and securely, using only their phone number and PIN.
The Quisk platform confirmed AIS’ strength in transaction processing and financial systems, and created an ideal opportunity for financial institutions seeking to enter the mobile money operation by leveraging the platform which is interoperable with existing merchant and ABM infrastructure.
It allows mobile money operators to have access to end-to-end banking, accounting, e-commerce, bill and loan payments, and money transfer platform.
Halsall says that as things are, customers wishing to use the Internet retailing business he has in mind could go to NCB and a get a Quisk card to access the system. However, he expects that at least three more commercial banks will come on board before yearend.
Asked how soon he expects the retail sales platform to come on board, Halsall explained that AIS is currently negotiating “with a large company operating in the Caribbean that is in the business of advertising Caribbean businesses”.
He hopes to use their portfolio, as a partner with AIS, to introduce the new e-commerce system.
“But that announcement will be made as early as the end of next month,” he said.
“The people I am discussing this with are very, very excited, especially start-ups and small businesses. All they will need to do is they rent a space and pretty much put their website up and advertise their goods on it, and we will have the logistics to cover the back end. And when you buy from them, it will be delivered to you anywhere you are in the island.”
Halsall says he wants local businesses, including small businesses, to benefit, in the same way that American businesses are benefitting from Alibaba and Amazon.
“I mean, when you go to these shows (expos) and see products that people like the Jamaica Manufacturers Association members are displaying that are made in Jamaica, it is enlightening sometimes. All it needs is exposure,” he said.
“So we want to be like the Amazon or Alibaba for Jamaican and Caribbean products by providing the virtual storefronts on our system.” (Adapted from Jamaica Observer)