DPM: Banks “slow” and “reluctant” on digital banking and e-commerce

DPM: Banks “slow” and “reluctant” on digital banking and e-commerce
Deputy Prime Minister and Minster of Finance K Peter Turnquest (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest yesterday urged local financial institutions to increase the pace at which they roll-out digital banking and e-commerce.

Turnquest urged accountants to help and stress the need for local financial institutions to increase the pace at which they roll-out digital banking and e-commerce, at the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Accountants month conference yesterday.

The deputy prime minister pointed to Hurricane Dorian’s aftermath as an example where such technologies could be of great assistance to recovery communities that lack a physical banking presence.

“I want you to help me to impress upon our financial institutions the need to increase the pace at which they roll out digital banking and electric commerce,” he said.

“One of the first things that comes up after is a storm is cellular service. It’s easy to get a temporary tower to the island erected so that people can have mobile communications and you can do all of your transaction needs on your phone.”

Turnquest continued: “It’s not like these technology doesn’t exist but for some reason our domestic institutions have been slow and reluctant to roll-out those opportunities.

“We need to encourage and incentivize our financial institutions to bring us up to par with our Caribbean neighbours who have those tools available. They can do it and I know we can do it.”

For its part, the Central Bank which regulates the commercial banking sector and credit unions  is exploring whether to bring about an early introduction of digital Bahamian currency on Abaco to enable rapid financial service recovery.

Central Bank Governor John Rolle John Rolle made the revelation last month while addressing the Exuma Business Outlook.

He noted that the banking sector particularly on Abaco had been significantly impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

Exuma has been selected as the first island to test the digital currency called Project Sand Dollar.

NZIA Ltd, a joint venture between IBM and a Singapore-based software company specializing in blockchain solutions, was selected from among 30 bidders to be the preferred technology solutions provider for the project.

The digital currency roll-is a key element in the Central Bank’s drive to modernize The Bahamas’ payment system, move consumers away from reliance on cash to electronic payments, and improve access to financial services – especially in remote Family Island communities.