Government Senator wants expanded role for banking agents
Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter
Government Senator Don Wehby has recommended that the services to be provided by banking agents such as supermarkets be expanded to allow them to open customer accounts and offer loans.
Wehby was contributing to today's Senate debate on the Banking Services (Deposit Taking Institutions) (Agent Banking) regulations that would allow establishments such as hardware stores and supermarkets to offer certain prescribed banking services.
The opening of accounts and offering of loans are not among the proposed services under the Banking Services regulation and Wehby says that should change.
He argued that Jamaica's financial system is robust enough to allow the agents of banks to offer these additional services.
Senator Wehby, however, hailed the regulations saying they will ensure that under-served communities in Jamaica have access to financial services.
He also noted that the regulations would support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, employment creation and productivity.
IN PHOTO: Lambert Brown
Meanwhile, Opposition Senator Lambert Brown argued that banks need to use the opportunity to improve their services to customers including addressing the vexed issue of service fees.
Under the regulations, the agents that will be selected by deposit-taking institutions, cannot charge fees for services, grant loans, open bank accounts or use customers' money for purposes other than what is requested by the customer.
They would, however, be able to make deposits and withdrawals, pay bills and loans, undertake electronic transfer of funds and conduct account balance enquiries.
The Senate has approved the regulations that were passed by the House of Representatives in November.