By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority’s (URCA) chairman yesterday said electronic banking services could "fill the gap" on Family Islands where commercial banks no longer have a physical presence.
Randol Dorsett, who was speaking ahead of the official opening of the 17th Global Symposium for Regulators or GSR-17, said that establishing the necessary regulatory framework to support these products was key to ensuring Bahamians are “not left behind”.
He added that information and communications technology (ICT) was critical to the Bahamas' “social and economic development”.
Mr Dorsett said electronic banking services, and the need for more consumer inclusion, were among the topics already discussed at the conference.
“We have heard the reports of banks moving from the Family Islands, with banks finding it more difficult to go in far flung areas, and so the hope is that digital financial services will be able to fill the gap,” he said.
The Central Bank has been taking steps to license non-bank electronic payments solutions providers, as it bids to cause “a significant shift” from Bahamians’ reliance on cash. The regulator is looking towards electronic banking solutions, such as the Internet and mobile apps, to fill the void left by the loss of all commercial bank branches on islands such as Bimini and Spanish Wells.
Back in May, the Central Bank yesterday made good on its pledge to introduce electronic payments regulation by mid-year 2017, unveiling a short one-month consultation on the proposed supervisory framework. The Payment Instruments (Oversight) Regulations 2017 are the first step towards licensing non-bank providers via a formal supervisory framework, bringing them under the Central Bank’s oversight.
Mr Dorsett said the discussions at the GSR-17 conference were needed to develop a policy framework that will advance electronic banking services, ensuring "our citizens are not left behind”.
He added that cyber security "goes hand in hand with the development of digital financial solutions because we want to encourage people to have trust and confidence in the digital financial solutions."