Scotiabank has reaffirmed its commitment to the Barbados market following the divestment of seven of its operations elsewhere in the Caribbean.
What is more, Senior Vice President of International Banking Brendon King said while there would be no more physical branches, the bank would be increasing its capital investment as it expands its digital footprint across the island.
“In Barbados, we continue to overhaul our footprint to focus on key branches where we can create an enhanced experience to customers with more technology and the right infrastructure to meet their needs. We are committed to our operations here in Barbados and we believe these decisions will help us to continue to thrive for the long-term,” he told a client cocktail event at the Sandy Lane Country Club on Tuesday night.
This commitment comes on the heels of the completion of the divestment of Scotia’s operations in Anguilla, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Maarten.
It also comes a year after the implementation of debt restructuring in the Barbados economy, which will see the $180.7 million in Government securities collectively held by commercial banks taking a hit.
King said the Barbados market has been “a great one” for the financial institution over the past six decades and the potential for earnings for shareholders continued to look favourable.
“We look at every market and its potential and look at if we can operate safely within our risk parameters and can we earn a return for our shareholders. It is very clear to us after our analysis that Barbados continues to be a strong market for us and we are looking forward to growing here for many years to come,” he said.
In relation to Government’s debt restructuring, King lauded the Mia Mottley-led administration “for the steps taken and for the consistency they are now showing in achieving the targets”.
Asked about the bank’s appetite for Government paper in the future, King said with Government unlikely to issue any new bonds within the next three years “that is not an option for us”.
“It is early days . . . It is extremely important that that commitment is unwavering and that the commitment to the targets are met. Sometimes that will require adjustments to some of their programmes on the fly.
Pointing to the Jamaica restructuring experience, King said it could be a “good template for Barbados”, pointing out that Jamaica was now enjoying some “very strong foreign investments” and the bank’s growth there was now “higher than it has been for years”.
During the reception, King announced that Scotia would be launching a new digital app in the first quarter of 2020 “to significantly increase functionality and offer a better customer experience”, offering alerts and other updates.
King said the customer base in Barbados was eager to go digital, stating that this island had some of the strongest growth in digital banking with only 14 per cent of financial transactions now taking place in a branch and 53 per cent of transactions either online or at an automated teller machine (ATM).
“For us, this is telling a story that our customers here in Barbados value our digital offering and it’s an area where we continue to invest,” he said.
He also pointed out that the bank, which has been in the island for the past 63 years, would be continuing a number of its partnerships including one with the University of the West Indies.