The Bahamas franchise of Scotiabank recently indicated in a blog post on its website that it has begun the transition of four of its branches to cashless service centres.
The post, titled ‘Cashless Banking – A New Normal for The Financial Industry’, noted: “The face of banking has changed dramatically in recent years with the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the transition to digital banking… While ‘banking without cash’ may seem strange to some, the Bank shared that the concept is common-place in other parts of the world, and actually delivers a more holistic experience for banking customers locally.”
While the financial institution spoke specifically to four branches, it did not clearly outline if other branches in the archipelago will begin the transition to the cashless model in the near future. However, the bank’s director of retail banking, Na-amah Barker, pointed out that traditional branches will definitely not disappear anytime soon.
Unfortunately, Caribbean Business Report’s efforts to reach Scotiabank, both by phone and e-mail, for clarification on the matter did not produce a favourable outcome.
Scotiabank Bahamas has been successfully operating a cashless model branches at the Nassau Main, Palmdale, Paradise Island and Wulff & Jerome branches for several months.
As a “leading proponent of digital banking” in The Bahamas, Scotiabank said the expansion of its cashless branch model is based on the trends in the market. It noted further that approximately 93 per cent of transactions are currently being conducted at self-service channels including ABMs, point of sale machines, and online banking platforms since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Barker, a “cashless branch” switches the focus from day to day cash transactions and, instead, prioritises customer engagement, including financial advice and planning.
“The new model has been working well; customers can efficiently conduct their cash transactions at our new intelligent ABMs (automated banking machines) which give immediate credit for cash deposits. The machines also allow customers to transfer funds between accounts, pay bills and make loan payments,” Barker she reported.
Significantly, Scotiabank’s transition to the cashless branch model comes at a time when the country is adapting to a hybrid economy in which the people simultaneously use digital currency and cash to conduct business.
“Our goal as a financial partner is to assist our customers to achieve their financial goals. The cashless model frees up capacity for our staff to allow them to really engage our customers”— Na-amah Barker, director of retail banking, Scotiabank Bahamas
In October last year, the Central Bank of The Bahamas launched its own digital currency, the Sand Dollar, to effect payment for goods and services. Since then it has predicted a significant uptick in the use of the digital currency by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
In December last year, Scotiabank Bahamas Managing Director Roger Archer revealed the bank would ramp up its investments in digital banking technologies so as to provide customers more convenient and robust alternate banking channels. It did so while announcing the closure of branches in Abaco, Andros, Long Island, Paradise Island, and Exuma.
Still, the bank maintains that given the introduction of cutting-edge banking technology and constant improvement of existing technologies, the Caribbean will likely see faster, more transparent and more secure cashless payments emerge than ever before.
As part of its digital strategy, Scotiabank Bahamas advised that it will introduce new products and services to increase convenience and security for customers in the coming months.
“Our goal as a financial partner is to assist our customers to achieve their financial goals. The cashless model frees up capacity for our staff to allow them to really engage our customers,” Barker stressed.