By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Bank of the Bahamas International yesterday said it aims to target the “unbanked market” in southern New Providence via its new Carmichael Road branch, disclosing that it has hired Creole speakers among the location’s 12 staff.
Renee Davis, the BISX-listed financial institution’s deputy managing director, said the branch - which opens on Monday in Benchmark Properties’ commercial development at the corner of Carmichael and Fire Trail Roads - was also looking to employ Spanish speakers.
Acknowledging the “diversity” of the area’s population, with Carmichael widely-regarded as the fastest growing location in New Providence, Ms Davis said Bank of the Bahamas International was targeting workers - such as Haitians and Jamaicans - who were in the Bahamas legally, but who were either underserved or outside the formal banking system.
While most of the 12-strong staff had been transferred from elsewhere in Bank of the Bahamas International’s operations, Ms Davis said several of the new hires were bilingual.
“We do understand that the community is very diverse,” she said. “We will be offering Creole services and looking to hire persons who can speak Spanish as well.
“It’s really our intention to go after the unbanked population in the southern district.”
She added: “No one truly knows the size of the market. When you think about the Haitian population, there are legitimate Haitians in the Bahamas who have work permits and are able to work. But those people are not part of the formal banking system.
“There are Jamaicans who work in this country who we want to attract also, so we really want to target the unbanked population in that area. We feel it’s going to work.”
Given southern New Providence’s rapid population growth, Ms Davis said Carmichael would be “one of our more significant branches”.
Adding that it would “serve the entire southern community”, she said the two-storey branch, covering 9,000 square feet, was designed to accommodate future expansion and growth.
“It’s a different design from our other branches,” Ms Davis told Tribune Business. “There’s a lot more room. It gives a wide space.
“This is the model if we move forward with any new branches we intend to open. It is designed for the future.”
She said Bank of the Bahamas International had invested heavily in the Carmichael branch’s technology and efficiency, to make processes “seamless” for customers.
Ms Davis said the presence of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), which could be used for cash and cheque deposits, plus online banking machines in the branch, were designed to reduce the number of customers waiting on lines.
“Our standard is that teller transactions, waiting on the teller line, should be complete in three-four minutes,” Ms Davis told Tribune Business.
“With the ATMs, the expectation is it will reduce the amount of persons on the teller line......On average, our banks can handle up to 400 customers on any given day. And that branch will also be open on Saturdays.”
The Carmichael Road branch will also be equipped to handle non-envelope cash deposits.