Su­per­mar­kets, hard­ware stores could of­fer bank­ing ser­vices

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL - Jo­van John­son Staff Re­porter jo­van.john­son@glean­erjm.com

REG­U­LA­TIONS HAVE been ap­proved that will give some banks the power to ap­point agents such as su­per­mar­kets or hard­ware stores to carry out some bank­ing ser­vices.

The ap­proval by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Wed­nes­day came in a de­bate that saw par­lia­men­tar­i­ans re­new­ing calls for tighter reg­u­la­tions of bank­ing fees.

Some of the ser­vices that the agents would be able to do in­clude de­posits and with­drawals, pay­ments of bills and loan re­pay­ment, elec­tronic trans­fer of funds and ac­count bal­ance en­quiries.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Aud­ley Shaw said the Bank­ing Ser­vices (De­posit Tak­ing In­sti­tu­tions) (Agent Bank­ing) reg­u­la­tions will in­crease ac­cess to bank­ing ser­vices. “This will fa­cil­i­tate the Govern­ment’s com­mit­ment to fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion, that is get­ting bank­ing ser­vices and ac­cess to money, mak­ing it more ac­ces­si­ble to our cit­i­zens.”

He added that the new sys­tem would help to bring more Ja­maicans out of the in­for­mal econ­omy by cut­ting wait­ing times, among other things.

Shaw ac­knowl­edged that “widen­ing of the chan­nels of de­liv­ery of bank­ing ser­vices, to in­clude non-bank­ing agents, cre­ates an in­creased risk to the fi­nan­cial sec­tor which has to be met with ad­e­quate reg­u­la­tion of this area. As such, the Agent Bank­ing Reg­u­la­tions seek to pre­scribe the ap­pli­ca­tion process, el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments, re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, obli­ga­tions and other ap­pli­ca­ble con­sid­er­a­tions that will be ap­pli­ca­ble to agent bank­ing op­er­a­tions”.

Un­der the reg­u­la­tions, the agents can­not charge fees for the ser­vices, grant loans, open bank ac­counts or use cus­tomers’ funds for pur­poses other than re­quested by the cus­tomer.

In meet­ing the re­quire­ments to get an agent ap­pointed, the de­posit-tak­ing in­sti­tu­tion has to, among other things, pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about the pro­posed agent’s na­ture of busi­ness, years in op­er­a­tion, fi­nan­cial per­for­mance, in­clud­ing prof­itabil­ity and au­dited state­ments.

A REG­U­LA­TORY SYS­TEM

The agent, once ap­pointed, must phys­i­cally sep­a­rate the bank­ing op­er­a­tions from its main com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity.

The Bank of Ja­maica (BOJ), which will be the su­per­vi­sor, will have power to en­force the reg­u­la­tions and re­voke ap­point­ments, among other things.

Op­po­si­tion Spokesman on Fi­nance Dr Peter Phillips said he sup­ported the reg­u­la­tions. How­ever, he said the Par­lia­ment needs to fos­ter more in­clu­sion by im­ple­ment­ing tighter reg­u­la­tions over how banks charge cus­tomers for de­posit­ing or with­draw­ing.

He ar­gued that the fees have be­come puni­tive and pro­hib­i­tive.

St Cather­ine South­ern MP Fitz Jack­son has tabled a pri­vate mem­bers’ bill that pro­poses the es­tab­lish­ment of a reg­u­la­tory sys­tem to gov­ern how banks charge fees.

Shaw said the Bank of Ja­maica is de­vel­op­ing a code of con­duct that would gov­ern the ac­tions of banks.

The Agent Bank­ing Reg­u­la­tions will fall un­der the Bank­ing Ser­vices Act that was passed in 2014. The law amended and con­sol­i­dated the then Bank­ing Act, Fi­nan­cial In­sti­tu­tions Act and the pru­den­tial reg­u­la­tion pro­vi­sions of the Build­ing So­ci­eties Act into one gov­ern­ing act.

The law also en­hanced the pow­ers of the BOJ as chief po­lice of the fi­nan­cial sys­tem. Min­is­ter of state in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Youth and In­for­ma­tion, Floyd Green, hugs lit­tle Reneque Thomas from the St Christopher School for the Deaf, af­ter the church ser­vice to launch Na­tional Youth Month at the Steer Town New Tes­ta­ment Church of God in St Ann on Sun­day.

CON­TRIB­UTED

SHAW

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