Categorized | National News

Bank Closure Could Make Way for Number Houses

Making a case for his constituents in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, MP for South Andros and Mangrove Cay, Picewell Forbes said the closure of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and other banks could drive people to use number house to exchange cash as they “fill the void”.

“When you hear people in the islands talking about it; they are able to get a couple of dollars through this service,” Forbes said.

The news of RBC’s closure in Andros Town and Gray’s, Long Island effective March 30th and April 13th respectively, came with some challenges, but Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said the number houses are not an option as money transfer is strictly prohibited within those institutions.

“It’s not necessarily a valid option, but we have a number of entities who have expressed interest in providing mobile solutions to these communities. So we’re working our way through those to see what that structure may look like in terms of the actual physical operations as well as regulations we need to put in place around that to ensure that we protect the system and the integrity of the system ,” Turnquest said.

The Royal Bank of Canada announced that it would be closing and consolidating a number of their branches.

The accounts of residents in these communities will, from those mentioned dates onward be handled by RBC’s main Bay Street store.

Effective as of March 16th and March 23rd respectively, the Robinson Road and John F. Kennedy drive locations will be merged with the Carmichael road store.

Opposition leader Philip Davis also took issue and said the move was unexpected.

“I wonder, is the private sector following the government’s lead and if it is, was the government’s hope that the private sector would take up the slack to impact the unemployment statistics. The question is what has the government done or what do they plan to do to spur the opportunities in the private sector,” Davis said.
Minister Turnquest responded to his comments and said that the government is not engaged in any plan to deliberately inflict harm or put financial burden on anyone through any unnecessary or inconsiderate act.

“What we see today is the continuation of the trend that has been happening now for several years. Unfortunately it is a global trend, as more and more banks, because of the availability of technology, are taking advantage of technology to reduce their cost. Reducing their cost unfortunately means that most or some of them are moving to an electronic banking platform requiring less brick and mortar as a result less bodies; it is the curse of this generation,” Turnquest said.

The changes at RBC will lead to more job losses and in an attempt to cushion the blow, RBC’s managing director of Caribbean banking for the northern Caribbean, Nathaniel Beneby said the plan is to work with the affected employees so that they’re able to make informed decisions about their future.

Adding that a voluntary separation of employees programme will be offered and that permanent full-time employees who work in store and service delivery areas will be eligible to apply.

The impacted employees will have the opportunity to apply for other available roles within the bank.

RBC’s changes also present some challenges for some of its clients, but in apologizing, the bank insists the realignment and introduction of physical and digital channel options are in keeping with its effort to become stronger and more competitive.

RBC last year closed several of its stores in the family islands at the time, its Bimini and Spanish Wells locations were merged with Freeport and Harbour Island.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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