By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
SEVERAL web shop operators yesterday said inter-island money transfers were impossible on their system, while others expressed concern over the impact on Family Island communities from Island Luck's decision to close all such accounts.
Anthony brown Bet Vegas's president told Tribune Business: "It really does not happen on our system. When you have the first GLI-certified system in the country, and when your system meets all international standards, then you have the ability to put in controls to minimise or prevent anything outside the parameters of the 2014 Gaming Act. Our system does not allow a player to withdraw more than $100 without verification from management. So we pretty much always had that issue under control."
Dirk Simmons, Island Luck's chief financial officer, said on Wednesday that the web shop had acted on its own initiative in deciding to close all accounts being used for money transmission purposes. "We do not offer a money transfer service; we never intended to offer a money transfer service, and we do not intend to offer the service. This is something that happened organically due to the robustness of our systems," said Mr Simmons.
His comments came just weeks after Dionisio D'Aguilar, who has ministerial responsibility for gaming, suggested that the Bahamas could again be 'blacklisted' through web shops acting as unregulated money transfer businesses.
Island Luck's decision appears to be an attempt to get ahead of any regulatory initiative by Mr D'Aguilar and other agencies to crackdown on the use of web shops for money transfers and other financial services-type transactions beyond gaming.
Mr D'Aguilar also questioned the web shop industry's Know Your Customer (KYC) scrutiny, suggesting that while they verified client identities and addresses, they did not assess their source of income.
Another local web shop operator, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Tribune Business of money transfers: "We never did that. On our system you were only able to take off winnings. You cannot withdraw a deposit. That is a banking operation and we were never licensed to be a bank.
"The question is, though, what is going to happen to those persons on the Family Islands who relied on that money transfer, especially with the banks pulling out."
Family Island-based businesses and residents have begun to increasingly use web shops to conduct their regular financial services transactions as commercial banks exited their islands.