Sat | Nov 28, 2020

Scotiabank going cashless at six rural branches, closing two others

Published:Wednesday | October 28, 2020 | 12:08 AM

Scotiabank announced a series of measures that will affect rural branches, including the closure of two locations and the halting of cash transactions at six others.

The sweeping changes form part of the bank’s digitisation drive, leaving the group with 29 branches and 277 ATMs.

The group will close the branches in the St Elizabeth capital, Black River, and Old Harbour, St Catherine, shifting those operations to the Santa Cruz and May Pen outlets, respectively.

The Black River branch is slated for closure in February 2021 and the Old Harbour outlet two months later.

The bank said it would contact affected customers and stakeholders in the coming months to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible. This includes consultation with the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), which represents a number of impacted employees.

In a separate move, the bank will convert six Scotiabank branches into cashless branches. These are Christiana, Falmouth, Portmore, Port Antonio, Port Maria and St Ann’s Bay. These branches will cease taking cash by early next year, said David Noel, president and CEO of Scotia Group Jamaica, in response to Gleaner queries.

“Digital branches will do all transactions except those involving cash,” he said, adding that customers wanting cash can access funds at available ATMs. Noel added that some of the locations will have zones with iPads for customer usage, and that staff will be on hand to assist customers in learning the “digital banking tools”.

All of the branches set for digital transformation are in rural areas. Noel downplayed that the move would meet resistance from the seniors and technophobes in the areas.

He argued that residents have already started to make the digital transition on their own amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we have to do is create spaces in our branches and opportunities to help these customers make the transition and learn how to use the tools. Jamaicans are now more than ever open to doing digital transactions and we just need to provide the information and tools to facilitate that,” Noel told The Gleaner.

Scotia stated that up to September, in-branch transactions accounted for less than 6.0 per cent of total transactions, compared to 13 per cent in 2018. Additionally, online and mobile transactions now account for 30 per cent of transactions, up from 21 per cent in 2018.

The remainder of transactions are at ATMs and through points-of sale.

Additionally, since the onset of COVID-19, Scotiabank reduced its use of cheques across its network by nearly half, which surpassed the decline of one-third across the financial system, according to Bank of Jamaica data.