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10 Facts About Banking In Jamaica – How Much Do You Know?
by Deon Clarke | Associate WriterPhoto: National Commercial Bank Fairview Financial Center
Gone are the days when Jamaicans kept their money (sometimes their entire life savings) under their mattresses, or is it? Regardless of how and where Jamaicans choose to save their money, banks have long marketed themselves as the best place to provide security as well as interest on your money. But, how much do you know about your bank though? How much do you know about changes in the banking sector? Let’s take a look at 10 facts about banks in Jamaica. I bet some of them might surprise you!
- The central bank in Jamaica is The Bank of Jamaica. Located in Kingston, it was opened on May 1, 1961. It was established by the Bank of Jamaica Act 1960 and has responsibility for the monetary policies of Jamaica on the instruction of the Minister of Finance.
- The National Commercial Bank (NCB) had its genesis as far back as 1837 when it began operations on Harbour Street in Kingston, as the Colonial Bank of London. In 1925 it became known as Barclay’s Bank through a series of mergers and acquisitions and in 1977 the Government of Jamaica acquired all of its shares and later renamed it, National Commercial Bank in 1997.
- NCB was named Best Bank 2019 and Safest Bank 2019 for Jamaica by Global Finance, an international finance publication company. This makes it NCB’s third consecutive time winning the Safest Bank award, and the fourth time winning the Best Bank award.
Photo: Scotiabank - Fairview, Montego Bay
- The Bank of Nova Scotia, a Canadian bank, opened the doors to its first office in Kingston in 1889, at a time when banking on the island was just about 50 years old. During those years a number of other banks had come and left. There was really not much need for banking in Jamaica until after the abolition of slavery on August 1, 1834. The Bank of Nova Scotia transitioned to a sophisticated network of 35 branches all across Jamaica with over 2000 employees.
- There are no American banks in Jamaica. However, The Jamaica National Building Society and Victoria Mutual Building Society are Jamaican financial institutions with offices in the U.S. It is also important to note that all Jamaican commercial banks have correspondent U.S. banking arrangements.
- Foreigners can open a bank account in Jamaica as long as they can provide the requisite documents. Most banks will ask you to provide; Proof of Employment (letter from employer, recent payslip or valid work ID), 2 current and valid forms of identification duly notarized. At least one of these must be a passport or permanent resident card.
Importantly, the request to open a Jamaican bank account must be done in writing and should include the reason for wanting the account as well as the type of account you would like to open. You will also need at least 2 character references though the requirements for references vary with each bank.
- Jamaican Banks are becoming digitized. A number of Jamaican banks are digitizing their operations, meaning that they are now having “cashless” operations. As such some of the branches have been completely closed or only handle non-cash transactions in branch. Customers have to make use of online banking platforms or use the “smart” ABMs to conduct their businesses.
- On August 9, 2021, The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) minted Jamaica’s first batch of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). A total of 230 million Jamaican dollars in CBDC will be issued to deposit-taking institutions as well as authorized payment service providers during the CBDC pilot exercise which will end in December. This digital currency can be used instead of cash and will be accepted everywhere as legal tender.
- As of February 15, 2018, The Bank of Jamaica demonetized lower value coins (less than $1). This means that coins such as the 10 cents and 25 cents have been withdrawn from circulation. Therefore, transaction figures should be rounded off to the nearest $1. So the $1 is now the lowest currency. The reason for this is that the lower value coins are not widely used so it is not cost-effective to produce them.
- The Jamaica Deposit Insurance Corporation (JDIC) increased its coverage limit three times since its establishment in 1998. The figure, initially $200,000, increased to $300,000 in 2001, then to $600,000 in 2007, and doubled to $1.2 million in 2020. This means that up to $1.2 million of consumer savings are automatically insured and deposit-taking institutions such as banks and credit unions will have to restore at least $1.2 million of consumer savings in the event of a financial market collapse.
These are some really great stuff to know! How many of these did you know? I am actually looking forward to the rollout of digital currency. It should be interesting to see how Jamaicans will adapt. The younger folks don’t seem to have much of a problem but I’m concerned for the older folks who are already experiencing issues with banks going digital. Let’s see.
I also recommend you read Top Jamaican Banks and Financial Institutions
- NCB awarded Best Bank & Safest Bank for Jamaica by Global Finance, Jamaica National Commercial Bank, https://www.jncb.com/About-Us/News-Room/News/NCB-awarded-Best-Bank-Safest-Bank-for-Jamaica
- Jamaica - US Banks and Local Correspondent Banks, Privacy Shield, https://www.privacyshield.gov/article?id=Jamaica-us-banks
- Regular Savings - Foreign, Jamaica National Bank, https://www.jnbank.com/personal-banking/savings/regular-savings/regular-savings-foreign/
- The Story Behind Scotiabank Jamaica, Scotiabank, https://jm.scotiabank.com/about-scotiabank/inside-scotiabank/the-story-behind-scotiabank-jamaica.html
- Jamaican Banks - A List Of The Top Banks in Jamaica, My-Island-Jamaica, https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamaican_banks.html
- BOJ Mints First Batch Of Jamaica's Central Bank Digital Currency Jamaica Information Service, https://jis.gov.jm/boj-mints-first-batch-of-jamaicas-central-bank-digital-currency/
- Demonetisation of Coins, Jamaica Information Service, https://jis.gov.jm/information/get-the-facts/demonetisation-of-coins/
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A patriotic Jamaican who adore its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.
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