EXCLUSIVE: Republic Conversion Creates Banking Woes (PART 2) | RALPH CANTAVE

** Exclusively on SXM Talks, articles by Ralph Cantave **
~ Central Bank’s Role ~ 
Following the internal glitch at Republic Bank on May 28 which reflected incorrect balances among patrons, clients felt aftershocks of the bank’s glitch up to June 2. To date some clients are still affected by the conversion of the bank which the General Managing Director Sterl Lyons stated should be resolved in early June.
Nonetheless, the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten (CBCS) provided clarity on their role when such matters occur. Local director, Raquel Lo Fo Wong stated that “the CBCS will review the information received including the response of the commercial bank on the incident.” She added,
“Subsequently, the CBCS may decide to ask for more in-depth information on the measures that have been or will be taken to resolve the incident and which measures are to be taken to prevent that a similar incident could take place in the future.”
Based on the information gathered the CBCS can instruct the bank to take corrective measures within a set timeframe. However, due to “legal confidentiality reasons” details and conclusions of the CBCS’ assessment and of possible measures will not be made public. In response to a question about the consequence of a bank’s failure to adequately provide services to its clients, Fo Wong stated that the CBCS can conduct “on-site examinations” in order to determine whether adequate measures were taken.
As for procedures in place for consumer complaints, the right primarily exists with filing a complaint with the consumer bank. But if a client is not satisfied with the response from the bank, a complaint can be filed with the CBCS by filling out the complaint form available on the CBCS website. However, the CBCS does not provide mediation between a client and their bank. Due to CBCS’ supervisory role, complaints are used as a “supervisory signal”. Fo Wong added that a complainant can however provide permission to the CBCS which can share the complaint with the respective bank. An instruction would then be given for the commercial bank to formally respond to the complaint of the client. However, the CBCS still maintains confidentiality and actions taken based on a complaint would not be divulged to the complainant. A complainant would only receive a letter of acknowledgment to confirm receipt of their complaint.
Bank’s Background
Republic Bank entered the local market in 2019 after acquiring Scotiabank’s operations on St. Maarten and other islands in the Caribbean. The 181 years old financial institution was originally called Colonial Bank and was the first commercial bank established in Trinidad and Tobago. The bank’s headquarters is still in Trinidad and it has branches in Caribbean countries such as Barbados, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname, and a few others.
Their operations have even extended to Ghana. The current conversion is a changeover from Scotiabank’s system which continues to affect some clients to date. Several clients have confided frustrations to this media person as well as on social media. General concerns persist which challenges elements of the vision statement of the bank such as to “set the standard of excellence in customer satisfaction.” Presently the bank has over 100,000 likes on Facebook and a review of one out of five stars.
The following article will explore the impact of foreign clients and the burden on locals due to limited service and information.
By Ralph Cantave