Cash is still king on Abaco one year after Hurricane Dorian devastated the island and according to Abaco Chamber of Commerce Director Krista Albury, cash is scarce.
Albury said the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problem by causing a shutdown of the island’s banking services. She said automatic teller machines (ATMs) are often bled dry within days and are slow to be refilled.
While The Central Bank of The Bahamas launched its digital currency Sand Dollar on Abaco in an effort to allay the problems that dependence on cash would cause, Albury said she does not know that it is being widely used by Abaconians.
“I personally don’t know of anyone who is using the Sand Dollar currency right now,” said Albury.
“Our major issue is the lack of cash availability on the island right now and the lack of banking services.
“Commonwealth Bank has been closed for almost two weeks now due to a possible COVID-19 exposure. We only have three working ATMs on the island and those quickly run out of cash.
“So we have people, especially in these times of little to no security, quite uncomfortable with being unable to get banking services, or get cash, or make deposits, or even cash their paycheck at this point.
“We need further banking services to step up to the plate over here and either get their offices open, or get some sort of mobile feature working, as many businesses around here just cannot get enough card machines working to be able to take those.”
Albury said while major businesses are able to take credit or debit cards on the island, important smaller businesses are not equipped to do so.
“A lot of smaller businesses, like food takeaways, are the backbone to keep Abaco running but they don’t take cards,” she said.
“Where are we supposed to get cash from if the bank is closed and the ATM runs out of money every three days, then aren’t refilled for a couple of days?”