17% of St. Maarten’s population ‘totally unbanked,’ survey shows | THE DAILY HERALD

PHILIPSBURG–A whopping 17% of the population of St. Maarten is totally unbanked, a survey conducted by the Central Bank for Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) in cooperation with the Department of Statistics (STAT) in St. Maarten, shows.

The percentage was mentioned in CBCS’ latest blog entitled “Could a digital Caribbean guilder improve financial inclusion in Curaçao and St. Maarten?” by Cedric Pietersz and Alvin Francisco, which was sent to the press on Tuesday.

According to the blog, recent surveys about payment behaviour in Curaçao (2020) and St. Maarten (2022) indicate that a high number of respondents still pay their bills with cash and a considerable number are not ready to reduce or stop the use of cash in the near future. Furthermore, from the results of the survey it can be concluded that 12% of Curaçao’s population and 17% of the population of St. Maarten are “totally unbanked.”

“Thus, these individuals are fully cash-based, without access to digital financial services such as [those] provided by banks,” it was stated in the blog. “The most relevant reasons provided by the individuals for not having a bank account are not having proof of income (employment contract), not having enough money, and/or not having a local ID.”

The blog said these findings make opening a bank account difficult. “The question is how to provide these individuals access to digital financial services thereby adding to the objective of increasing financial inclusion in Curaçao and St. Maarten. The introduction of a digital Caribbean guilder could provide a basis to achieve this objective,” the blog stated (see related story).

“If the digital Caribbean guilder is distributed through payment service providers such as non-bank agents, the individual has the option to download a digital wallet on his smartphone and top up this wallet with a cash deposit at the agent,” it was stated in the blog. (See related article.)

The data was obtained from a survey on the financial position and payment behaviour in St Maarten. For the St. Maarten part of the survey, interviewers visited households with several research questions. The purpose of the survey was to gain insights into the financial literacy, financial problems, financial position and payment behaviour in St Maarten.

Based on the information, CBCS said it would have been able to efficiently and effectively conduct financial education activities, to stimulate responsible financial behaviour of consumers and to make them resilient to financial shocks; provide financial institutions with advice regarding their current financial products and services and adjust/innovate payment systems, to meet the consumers’ needs.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/17-of-st-maarten-s-population-totally-unbanked-survey-shows