Central registry of bank customers at least 18 months away, says BOJ Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

A digital central registry of local bank customers is being developed to make it easier for customers to move their money from one bank to another could be another 18 to 24 months away from becoming a reality, the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) indicated. 

BOJ Governor Richard Byles disclosed that the registry is being developed by the central bank along with the Jamaica Bankers Association with assistance from the World Bank.

“What we are trying to do is to create a central electronic database with all the Know Your Customer (KYC) information required for opening a bank account”, Byles said at the BOJ’s quarterly press conference on Tuesday.

While noting that the registry is still in its early development stages, the governor suggested that the new system may allow for the easy retrieval of banking data, similar to how airline passengers’ data can be accessed by scanning their passports upon arrival at an airport.

“That’s what you want to try to achieve with the electronic KYC so that when you have your account at Bank X and you want to move it, it’s just a matter of you showing your bank account ID to another bank, just like when you’re coming into the country with your passport and your visa”, Byles said.

The governor cautioned, however, the project was not a simple one as it involved the secure collection of data from hundreds of thousands of customers from all 11 deposit-taking institutions (DTI).

“It’s going to take a lot of cooperation between us and the commercial banks because we’ll be saying to them you need to take the data on all of your customers and put it into this depository.  They have to know that it’s safe, secure and inaccessible to cyber-attacks. Any central depository is going to be like Fort Knox”, Byles said.

Meanwhile, deputy governor Dr Jide Lewis noted that the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) was recently amended to allow banks to share KYC information with each other. He said the registry would create a digital mechanism for the sharing of such information.

Noting that Jamaica’s banking industry was dominated by two players (NCB and Scotiabank) which held approximately 60 per cent of the deposits, Byles said the BOJ was still open to applications for new banking licenses.

“We have never shut that door”, he said.

“The challenge we have is to create more competition partly by anyone who wants to come into the sector, but also by making it easier for customers to move their account from one bank to another”, Byles noted.