Bahamas a regional leader in digital banking, says RBC exec

Senior Director of Payments, Digital and Automation at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) David Hewick yesterday said The Bahamas is the bellwether of digital banking for the Caribbean region, adding that over the past five years usage has more than doubled in the country.

His comments come as the country grapples with fewer in-person banking options, as more and more brick-and-mortar bank locations close permanently or consolidate.

“Usage has grown rapidly and steadily across the region, but I would highlight that it has certainly been stronger in The Bahamas. We now see that more than half of our customers in The Bahamas use digital banking regularly. When we look at the kinds of transactions that are being done, we see… from 2017 to today for example, we now see a significant majority of transactions for payments are not cash,” he said while addressing an RBC virtual thought leadership event entitled “Cash Transformation and the Digital Economy: The Way Forward for The Bahamas”.

“The number of payments that are not cash-based in that time has more than doubled for The Bahamas in particular. So, we certainly see The Bahamas leading the pack around the region and I think a lot of the trends that we’re seeing, a lot of the things that are being introduced, makes The Bahamas a bit of a bellwether for the rest the region, and I think that’s something to be proud of.”

Earlier this year, the Central Bank reported that during 2021 the volume and value of debit card activities expanded by 41.5 percent to 17.6 million transactions and by 14.3 percent to $2 billion, respectively.

Earlier this month, President of the Clearing Banks Association (CBA) Roger Archer said financial services in The Bahamas was evolving to a more digital footprint.

Hewick said RBC’s digital transformation with online banking began many years ago, but in 2017 the company launched its next generation digital platform, which was designed to reach every jurisdiction in the Caribbean, all customers in the retail business and commercial side and be universally available on every device.

“We continue to invest in our platform regularly. We have a number of focus areas. Whether you see it directly or not, we have been working hard to improve the reliability and the security, but we are also introducing new features to make it easier to access and to provide more value. That would include in the last couple of years things like RBC Business Pay, which is designed to make it easier to manage payments to suppliers and payroll,” he said.

“We’re not done, we’re not standing still, we have more in the pipeline, including a number of new, exciting features in the coming months that will continue to make it easier to access and extend your ability to utilize payments, and give you more ways to be engaged and informed with your financial services.”

Hewick added, “I will put the plug in too, Sand Dollar as it grows and as we start to connect to the broader infrastructure, RBC is also ready to add access to move money in and out of your Sand Dollar wallet, that will come with your digital platform wallet that will come in due course.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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