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Jamaica National Building Society gets green light on banking status

Published:Thursday | October 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) has received the green light to become a fully fledged commercial bank.

News emerged yesterday that Minister of Finance Dr Peter Phillips had granted banking status to the country's premier building society.

JN's General manager Earl Jarrett said last night that Phillips' approval was received in a letter, following the organisation's re-submission of its application in November 2013.

JNBS had made its first application for a commercial banking licence in 2008.

"This is a major achievement for us," said Jarrett. "We have come a long way since our first application seven years ago, and are definitely committed to repositioning JN to better serve our members."

This means that Jamaica National will become the third-largest commercial bank in Jamaica when it completes its conversion, with 12.8 per cent of the market, in terms of total assets. The National Commercial Bank and Scotiabank enjoy approximately 36 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively.

Jarrett said the conversion was being undertaken in light of increased demands from members, for an expanded range of credit products and services that cannot be legally offered by building societies.

He added that these product and service offerings include certain types of personal loans and chequing accounts.

Jarrett revealed that the minister's approval also gives the JNBS the clearance to reorganise its group. This comprises several companies offering a wide variety of financial and non-financial products and services in compliance with the Banking Services Act.

Both JN's conversion and group reorganisation will need the approval of its members to move forward.

"We have, therefore, been making the necessary operational changes, which must be implemented to make the change possible," said Jerrett.

He added: "We are ready to reposition Jamaica National to successfully chart another 141 years as a bona fide member of the commercial banking sector."