The Adrian Loveridge Column – Alternative Banking

With the recently announced major changes taking place across the region, is it time for our banks to radically change the way they currently run their businesses?

What prompted these thoughts was looking at new innovative players in the market, noticeably in the United Kingdom and particularly with Starling Bank. Absolutely no service fees, higher interest on deposits than we can currently dream of and perhaps most appealing of all, no indeterminate queuing in a branch to perform what are often mundane banking transactions.

In a video posted on YouTube under the title ‘They Said It Couldn’t be Done – Starling Bank’ the story of what is now a working reality and seemingly successful outcome, is carefully explained.

Of course, it is not a model for all existing users in the Caribbean, as it is entirely dependent on mobile internet availability, but if just ten percent of current traditional banking customers adopted this way of doing business, just think of the potential effect that could have at individual branch level.

When one of our banks unilaterally decided to replace credit cards with new chip and pin alternatives, no-one could reasonably question that it would result in increased security. But then in our case it took a total of five separate personal visits to the branch, before we were finally in possession of cards that were not frequently declined at various merchants.

In all fairness, the bank involved finally agreed to refund the annual card fee, but that certainly did not make up for the numerous branch visits, enormous waste of time and burning up gallons of fuel at the one of the highest petrol prices in the world, even after the recent 20 cents per litre price reduction.

What I cannot understand is, when my new American Express card arrives by normal mail, I can simply go online or call a toll free number to activate it in seconds.

Like many perhaps, I was horrified to read that Barbadians had a quoted ‘$347 million in credit card debt’ according to media report adding that a mind boggling 129,000 credit cards were in use during 2017.

With unpaid balance interest rates hovering around 22 per cent, it is certainly very easy to see the attraction to our financial institutions, especially when they are only paying 0.01 per cent interest on deposited monies.

It is not difficult to understand our banks are trying hard to mitigate the losses on Government debt default or fiscal ‘haircuts’ and perhaps they see that they can only make up these losses by extracting further fallacious fees through their normal customer base.

However, with the introduction of ever more nebulous service charges, I believe that we are getting very close to that much used saying – ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’, which will inevitably drive current customers into more affordable alternatives.

The banking industry cannot believe that it is immune from the widely practiced competition which takes place in all other industries and services?

Perhaps they are gambling on the existing status quo, where they enjoy unique trading privileges, not afforded to other possible financial challengers.

Of course, a simple change in legislation could fundamentally transform that.

28 thoughts on “The Adrian Loveridge Column – Alternative Banking

  1. Adrian
    Perhaps it is not the banks but the way business is conducted in Barbados. I have actually entered a bank in Barbados once. The lineups were horrendous. I now only use the bank machines. Actually at home in Canada, I rarely use a bank physically , I pay my bills online when I receive them online . If I need cash I use a bank machine. The few times I go into the bank there is rarely a line up. I would imagine because most people do what I do. From what you have said about your experience with issuance of a credit card it would appear banking practices in Barbados have not been changed for many years ? Why do you think this is?

  2. Robert, I agree. What I cannot understand that customers in Canada (or the USA or UK) would never put up with the level of service that we get here, even when they are Canadian owned banks. The Government is tackling the economic crisis, but you still cannot pay online at many of their departments. A 30 minute queue at the Barbados Water Authority with one cashier on duty last week when like C&W/Liberty bills I could pay online with a credit card.

  3. You may be assured that with the coming of Wemoney that such long lines will be a thing of the past

    For under that regime you will be able to pay Mugabe and Rawdone online and we can be assured that the coffers of the Treasury will only receive it when dem feel like releasing it

    Just wait huh turn

  4. @Adrian

    I like your dig at BWA, it’s the only Bill I pay in Barbados that cannot be directly paid or accessed online, interesting though you can get the amount owing through SUREPAY ?. Must say that most banking services in Barbados are nearly equivalent to that in Canada, however it’s the Barbados populace that are not willing or competent enough to adapte to the new technology. Barbarians culture is that the populace just loves to stand in a line for incompetent service.

    Populace is like the two party politician system, same old, same old.

  5. @ Wiley Coyote at 10 :11 AM

    You like you is not a Bajan. Queuing at a bank is a sure place for me to see and greet my old friends and exchange gossip. How will I find out who dead and who sick?
    In any case I got no money to pay for a $1000. computer . I old and cannot remember all those PINS and needles.
    I am a social being , I like face to face , interpersonal service..

    Steupse.!!! LOL

  6. Comedy aside.
    The banks are all digitised. To the customers the computerised inputs appear to take longer to process than the old electro-mechanical and manual systems. I am told the problem is the inadequacy/slowness of the local telecommunication system. These systems consume a lot of energy. I am told that the Blockchain based technologies will also consume a higher level of uninterrupted power supply. So there are always downside risks. One must always compute the net benefit.

    • Oh always write with certainty about matters pertaining to Barbados to the point you are certain we live in a failed state. Why can’t you write with the same certainty in this instant? Given your training share your view.

  7. LOL
    ha ha
    MUST HE SPELL IT OUT ALL THE TIME? and be called childish like non contributors like Lord Goren?
    ha ha

  8. Oh always write with certainty about matters pertaining to Barbados to the point you are certain we live in a failed state. Why can’t you write with the same certainty in this instant? Given your training share your view.(Quote)

    I am trying not to be rude, but what certainty do you want me to write about? Tell me and I will try. I said the pound sterling is collapsing, and as we get a high proportion of our tourists from the UK will this impact tourism.

  9. @ David BU 12:07 PM

    No single person can stymy progress. I,for one, will never try to do so. What some people see as progress others see as an approaching apocalypse. I think we have had a similar conversation before. I have no intention of revisiting this non- issue. Time longer than twine. Let us see how things evolve.

  10. @HA
    the pound “collapsing”? I know I’ve seen the stories. But isn’t the pound at the same value it was in Dec 2016? It rose slightly in the interim, and is now back to former levels. And Brexit is hanging over its value. The pound was 1.15 to the Euro in early 2013, today it is 1.10, albeit it also rose in between those periods. It would seem to me, “collapse” is a stretch. What occurred post 2007 was a collapse, from which many have never recovered.
    I would foresee no change in tourist arrivals based on this “correction”, to besides, most of the Barbadian arrivals have a little money to begin with.

  11. @WC
    “Must say that most banking services in Barbados are nearly equivalent to that in Canada”….not sure this is anywhere near accurate.

  12. Have two (2) accounts in Bim joint with a family member, have access to both accounts via ATM. I tried to get access to accounts via on line banking, went through the whole process entering data etc. and expected to get access but was directed to call a number (could be local or 1800 can’t remember), called said number and the Cust. Serv Rep requested the date and amount of last deposit, all funds are pensions deposited from overseas and amounts and dates are unknown until notice arrive via mail or we make a trip to bank to obtain a print out of entries. Of course, I didn’t have this info as this was the period between the Dep and the receipt of notice and I was leaving the same day, the Rep didn’t care that I had the previous month’s statement and could provide details of everything on the statement. Did I say the Rep didn’t care? We are mulling over whether to move those accounts as other issues have reared up…….

  13. @ Sargeant at 2:04 PM

    Your experience is replicated hundreds of times and it happens at every bank in Barbados. The human element of compassion is missing. Human service providers are behaving like the robots that are replacing them. It did not compute. The algorithm does not allow for common sense.

  14. We are certainly trailing behind the banking bandwagon. How many years since one could deposit cheques online to an account in the US? Not so in Barbados and only the good Lord knows when. Banks have been downsizing staff, customer service and interest paid while upsizing charges and profits. As usual, we stand in line and grumble but refuse to protest loudly or physically. Why should they stop walking all over Barbadians? We like it so.

  15. @Vincent

    My apologies, your OLD I’m Old, not an excuse for not being able to keep up with new technologies. You don’t need a $1000.00 computer to use the ATM (Bank provides ATM Card for free), its generally free for deposits, withdrawals, bill payments, transfers etc LEARN how to use ATM CARD, its not rocket science. If you want to socialize drop by your local RUM BAR, don’t do it at my bank slowing down legitimate customers trying to get their pension money to buy groceries.

    SAME old SAME old. Bajan issues could not be better explained.

  16. Someone I know has just received a letter from a local bank dated October 18, 2018; the enveloped in which it was posted to London was franked March 20, 2019; and it arrived last weekend.
    To see this as incompetence will be a mistake. It is a bank, an institution, preparing to claim that the letter was sent in October last year and the subsequent delay is the account holder’s fault.
    This is gangster capitalism; and at a time when the banks have introduced a so-called code, marking their own home work. Barbados is a failed state.

Leave a comment, join the discussion.