The Senate has approved the Banking Services (Deposit Taking Institutions) (Agent Banking) Regulations of 2016, which was passed by the House of Representatives in November.
The regulations will provide a framework that will allow some banking business to be undertaken through agents authorised by a Supervisory Committee.
Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, piloted the regulations on December 9 on behalf of Leader of Government Business and Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith.
The services to be provided will include deposits and withdrawals, payment of bills and loan repayments, electronic transfer of funds, and account balance enquiries.
Senator Reid indicated that the intention is to widen banking access beyond existing deposit-taking institutions’ branch networks and electronic access channels to include the use of third-party owned locations that will offer banking services alongside their own products and service offerings.
These include supermarkets, gas stations, hardware stores, money transfer and remittance operations, and lottery outlets.
The regulations will also facilitate the Government’s commitment to financial inclusion.
Commenting on the regulations, Government Senator, Don Wehby, acknowledged the role they played as a strategy towards achieving greater financial inclusion.
“Financial inclusion is primarily about providing wide-scale access to affordable financial services to individuals and businesses in a country. Greater access to financial services has been identified as a basic building block for achieving the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals of shared economic growth and food security,” he said.
Senator Wehby said the regulations are necessary to allow deposit-taking institutions to break down barriers to get “affordable and suitable financial products.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Wehby recommended that the services to be provided by banking agents, such as supermarkets, be expanded to allow them to open customer accounts and offer loans.