NASSAU, BAHAMAS- In 2022, the number of cases of reported cases of payment fraud relative to cheques, debt and credit cards declined by just over 24 percent however the value of such transactions increased by just under $19 million according to recent data released by the Central Bank.
According to the Central Bank in its annual report and statement of accounts for 2022 the reported number of such cases reduced by 24.2 percent to 6,319; however, the corresponding value expanded to $21.2 million from $2.6 million. According to the regulator, instances of debit card fraud constituted 80.5 percent of total cases, while the attendant value comprised 71.4 percent of the overall value. Reported credit card fraud comprised 18.9 percent of total cases and some six percent of the associated value.
It was also noted that as cheque usage continued to decline, the instances of this type of fraud represented just 0.6 percent of total cases, against 22.6 percent of the overall value.
According to the regulator, in 2022 cheque usage remained low, except for large value transactions. “In particular, the number of processed cheques declined by an annualized 11.9 percent to 1.1 mil- lion, albeit the corresponding value rose by 1.1 percent to $4.3 billion.
The Central Bank noted that it continues to progress with the benchmarking of the proposed strategy for the reduction and elimination of cheques in the country. According to the regulator, a legal firm was engaged to review the existing environment in which cheques are negotiated, and to identify reforms that would support any migration away from the physical instruments, toward outcomes that were not encumbered by the use of alternative payments instruments. The Central Bank also undertook initial steps to enlist a qualified firm to design and execute a public education and relations campaign.
“While the targeted deadline for the elimination of cheques is end-2024, stakeholder input and public consideration are expected to weigh on any deviation from this timeline, as a steering committee, drawing on key public and private sector representation is expected to oversee the project from 2023 onwards,” the regulator noted.
The regulator also reported that at end of 2022, licensed international banks and trust companies decreased to 182 from 193 in 2021. Total assets declined by approximately US$11 billion or 8.6 percent to $118.0 billion as at end-December, 2022.
“Some international banks and trust companies continued to recover during 2022, with institutions seeking new strategies to rebound from the negative effects of the global pandemic. Meanwhile, a number of institutions sought to rebuild through enhanced products and new ownership, while others made decisions to exit the jurisdiction by way of merger and acquisitions, or assets transfers to other local supervised entities or affiliated entities. In some instances, these movements were precipitated by decreased profits from within the jurisdiction,” the regulator noted.