As Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) continues to reduce its physical footprint in the country, opting for a more digitized platform, Executive Vice President and Head of Personal and Commercial Banking for North America and the Caribbean Kirk Dudtschak said, The Bahamas leads the way in the Caribbean with an increase of over 60 per cent in digital and mobile usage year over year.
His comments came during the opening of the Franklyn R. Wilson Graduate Center at the University of The Bahamas (UB) Thursday evening.
RBC donated $1 million to the project. That amount was matched by government and the Wilson family, for a total $3 million investment.
The question remains however, whether the increase highlighted by Dudtschak was a choice, or forced, as RBC announced earlier this year several changes to its offerings, which include no further acceptance of deposits and transfers to other RBC client accounts, with the exception of RBC FINCO clients over the counter. Additionally, fast deposits are no longer available and wire transfers are no longer processed over the counter.
Standing orders for credit card payments were also discontinued by the bank.
Instead, the bank has advised customers to use its automatic teller machines (ATMs) to deposit cash or cheques and its mobile app to pay bills, credit cards, transfer funds, send wire transfers, check credit card balances and make payments to other RBC clients.
RBC also announced an end to certain services for non-clients including cheque cashing, bill payments, taking deposits or exchanging foreign currency.
Dudtschak said, “We see it (digital transformation) in our world today, we see it in the transformation of whole industries that have migrated to a digital world, and we see it in the evolution of industries in this economy.”
Many in the wider community, however, have railed against the changes, especially the elderly in the Family Islands where a lack of infrastructure does not allow them to become “technologically sound”.
Dudtschak, however, argued that like more than 2 billion people around the globe, Bahamians have the convenience of digital at their fingertips and “we see that reflected in their banking preferences ”.
“Bahamas led all other Caribbean markets with an increase of over 60 per cent in digital and mobile usage year over year, and the increase of over 20 per cent in banking machines,” he revealed.
“We are working harder to make it easier and more convenient through the use of technology but, at the same time, we are also investing in the capabilities of people of our advisers.”
The vice president admitted, however, that the change can be “ hard and uncomfortable”.