Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Barbados to implement real-time banking

By November next year, banking institutions will be able to transact business in real-time in Barbados.

Ryan Straughn, Minister in the Ministry of Finance, made the announcement at the opening ceremony for the new branch of the City of Bridgetown (COB) Cooperative Credit Union at Six Roads, St Philip.

According to Barbados’ Loop News, Straughn reveals all of the key players had been working assiduously for the past two years to get the systems going.

He stressed that real-time banking will make conducting business with government and financial institutions easier for micro, small and medium enterprises.

“We have given a mandate that we want to make it as easy for people to do business with government, and for the government to do business with people…the coconut vendor at the side of the road on Sunday morning, the hairdresser, the barber, the person who has the small shop, and the doctor. We want to be able to onboard technologically these persons, such that we are able to break down the barriers that have barred the growth of the small business sector for too long,” says the finance minister.

“As we introduce that real time payment system, and equally as we introduce new measures for credit reporting next year, … then we know that we’ll be able to unlock access to credit, simply because we would have given any business, no matter the size, the opportunity to leverage technology, and allow them for the first time in our history to be able to go to any financial institution with credible records, such that they will be able to access credit and be able to expand.”

Straughn states that the government has been working with the credit union movement to move things along.

The Minister held that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Barbados to embrace digital banking and digital technologies.

He revealed that in January, the National Payment Systems Bill will be laid in Parliament. The Bill is the legislative framework for the digitisation of payments across the island.

“The work to implement the Automated Clearing House (ACH) is well on the way and by November of next year, all of the eight of the major financial institutions, which include the City of Bridgetown, will be a part of that,” Straughn discloses.

He indicates that the government would be seeking to allow credit unions to be brought into the deposit insurance framework, to ensure parity with respect to the treatment of financial institutions.

Last year, Bitt become the first fintech to complete and exit Barbados’ Regulatory Sandbox Framework.

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