The operations of commercial banks in Barbados are in no way threatened by the emergence of digital currency.
That is the view of president of The Barbados Bankers Association (TBBA) Donna Wellington who said banks had already embraced digital technology in their operations.
At the ongoing IMF/World Bank 2019 Spring Meetings in Washington, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde said the role of banks as providers of payment services was being challenged by the growing popularity of digital currency.
“Banks are going to have to adapt to survive or possibly disappear,” she predicted.
When asked if commercial banks had any reason to fear digital currency Wellington responded, “Not at all.”
However, she said it would take a change in attitude of Barbadians for digital technology to become normal practice.
“Digital transactions are alive and well in Barbados. All of the commercial banks allow you to do digital transactions even now and what people may not be aware of is that you can, from internet banking and mobile banking apps, transfer money between all of the commercial banks using digital means and not cash,” Wellington said.
“Of course the intent is to reduce cheque usage by digital transactions and also to reduce cash usage by digital transactions. We are aspiring to be exactly there and it will take a change of mindset around cheque and cash usage from all Barbadians in order to make that leap.”
She lauded Government for leading the charge by its move to reduce the number of cheques issued, and for putting a new system in place for tax collection and tax refunds.
“With the Government leading the charge and making sure that people understand that when it deals with Government it will be on a digital basis, digital transactions to and from Government can be expected, then the hope is that individuals both personal and business will also take the initiative,” Wellington pointed out.
She also noted that while the use of digital currency was complex, digital transactions were much simpler.
“Basically what we are doing is going another way. Instead of dealing with digital currency which is fraught with complexity, what we are doing is just digitizing all of the transactions that are available in country,” she said.
Wellington also revealed that banks would be rolling out more products and services later this year that will be “leading the charge” in that regard. [email protected]