Cambios get hearing from BOJ, more talks to follow
A meeting between the Cambio Association of Jamaica and the central bank on Tuesday made no immediate advances on repairing business relations between the foreign-exchange traders and their banks, but more discussions are pending.
"We merely aired the concern with the BOJ, reiterating that the industry is very important," said Dennis Hickey, former president of the cambio association.
"To say we have come out of the meeting with solutions would be a lie, but remember this is the first of many discussions," said Hickey, whose firm Money Master Limited operates a cambio.
The cambios have been reaching out to the Jamaican Government and the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) since 2011 after the first commercial banking group, RBC Royal Bank Jamaica (then RBTT Bank), opted to stop doing business with the sector.
The issue reared up again this month when National Commercial Bank (NCB), the largest of the seven banks, informed the traders it would cease doing foreign-exchange-related business with them because of concerns expressed by its overseas banking partners.
NCB said its branches and units have been told not to issue foreign-currency drafts or process outgoing wire transfers for cambios and remittance companies, and not to process deposits of foreign-cleared cheques, but would conduct other business with them. But members of the cambio sector say by cutting off transactions related to drafts and wire transfers, the bank's actions would affect the bulk of their business.
The cambio association's lobby for intervention got nowhere two years ago, but this time the finance ministry and the BOJ were more accommodating of their request to meet, though the central bank reaffirmed ahead of the meeting that there was little it could do.
Still Hickey was optimistic after the meeting.
"We expect to get the assistance from the BOJ and the Government so we can show that we are fully compliant," he said. "I think the meeting today was just a prelude of what is to come. This is the first of many steps in the process."
Hickey said the BOJ is to meet with the Jamaica Bankers' Association next to discuss the issue.
"We are satisfied that BOJ has met with us and that they recognise that this industry is of social and economic and financial importance and can make significant contributions. All the parties recognise the need to have dialogue and we intend to intensify the dialogue with all the stakeholders as soon as possible," he said.