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Urca Chair Wants Electronic Banking To 'Fill The Gap'

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

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."

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 weeks ago

Just more evidence of the Minnis-led FNM government pandering to the wants and desires of the racketeering numbers' bosses like Craig Flowers and Sebas Bastian.

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sheeprunner12 2 weeks ago

The Family Island situation is anything unlike New Providence ........... most FIs are larger, settlements are scattered and more expansive in distance, at least 60% of the FI population are over 55 and retired, most senior citizens do not drive, there are no public transportation services, most islands have unreliable internet service, most transactions are done in cash, most seniors like one-on-one services, most seniors are averse to using ATMs, many seniors live alone without access to children, most seniors depend on NIB, Post Office accounts are preferred ......... So internet banking is not a popular option ........... Webshops are also a factor ................... Rethink this URCA

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DDK 1 week, 6 days ago

WEBSHOPS SHOULD BE ILLEGAL!!!!

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The_Oracle 2 weeks ago

So who will fill the ATM machines, if they are left behind? Out island businesses will do what with cash receipts? Are we really back to mattresses?

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DaGoobs 2 weeks ago

Mudda: he was appointed by the PLP. Like Perry, he's trying to come up with something as his legacy for a generally lacklustre and unproductive tenure where mobile liberalization will be the only claimed accomplishment.

For this proposal to succeed, the Bahamas would have to become as sophisticated as those Bank of America commercials we see on TV where you scan a check and deposit it in your account or the other TV commercial where the guy scans his smartphone in front of a cash register and the cost of whatever he is purchasing is deducted from his bank account just like a debit card. The smartphone then becomes the means to carry out banking and payment transactions.

However, as one writer points out most Family Islands don't have Internet, much less the high speed internet or Wi-Fi that such a program would require. And this proposal coming from the same geniuses at URCA who have said that they are postponing further work on the Universal Service Obligations on BTC and Cable Bahamas, which required Cable Bahamas to have high speed internet in every island in the Bahamas (but so far they only have it in parts of the 4 islands where they provide digital TV services) and for BTC to have dial-up internet everywhere as well, although BTC says it hardly provides dial-up anywhere now and seems to be on the way to providing fibre to the home in order to further its Flow TV service. The other issue to resolve is trust in the system, that my deposits will show up, that I won't have fraudulent or double charges deducted from my account, that my account or the bank won't get hacked, who and how do I contact the bank if there's an error or a problem, how quickly will my problem get resolved without any physical person or building to go to when they want to complain? Can the banks or phone companies recoup their investment and how long will it take? What kind of an uptake will it have? Lots of questions, few answers at this time.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 weeks ago

@DaGoobs - Good Points. As an operative of the last corrupt PLP government, Randy Dorsett really needs to move on. He couldn't cut it as a partner at Graham, Thompson & Co. (GTC) and certainly does not have what it takes to be Chairman of URCA or a director of any other enterprise for that matter. Besides being notoriously lazy and undisciplined, some have been heard to say his ethics are questionable.

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killemwitdakno 2 weeks ago

US banking apps let you deposit checks by taking pictures. I guess familt islanders will be signing up with US banks.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 6 days ago

True .......... After all, Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa lead the world in the use of smartphones to do banking transactions ....... There is hope for Bahamians

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 6 days ago

You may find use of U.S. banking apps requires a U.S. ISP

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DDK 1 week, 6 days ago

You're probably right Mudda, and why would a Bahamian want to use a U.S. bank? Perhaps if Government would concentrate on getting our economy back on some sort of track as expeditiously as possible we can forestall a mass exodus of the remaining banks. It is, after all, about their bottom line.

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