Wehby pushes for banking agents to offer more services
Government Senator Don Wehby has recommended that the services to be provided by banking agents such as supermarkets be expanded to include opening accounts and offering loans.
Wehby was contributing to Friday'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.
Opening accounts and offering loans are not among the proposed services and Wehby said that should change.
He argued that Jamaica's financial system is robust enough to allow for the agents of banks to offer the additional services.
Senator Wehby hailed the regulations as ensuring that underserved 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.
Meanwhile, Opposition Senator Lambert Brown argued that banks need to use the opportunity to improve their services to customers including the vexed issue of fees for services.
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 those requested by the customer.
They would be able to facilitate deposits and withdrawals, bill payments and loan repayment, electronic transfer of funds and account balance enquiries.
The Senate approved the regulations.
The House of Representatives approved them in November.