Banks to Establish Common Standard for Customer Relationship

By the end of August 2017, Jamaica’s deposit-taking institutions (DTIs) are expected to establish a common standard for customer relationship.

This is stipulated under the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) enforceable Banking Services Code of Conduct on Customer-Related Matters, which seeks to ensure that clients of DTIs will receive fair, transparent and high-quality service.

Speaking at a press conference at the BOJ’s offices in downtown Kingston, yesterday (October 12), Governor, Brian Wynter, said where a DTI fails to comply with the Code, the Bank of Jamaica can either issue a warning or give direct instructions to comply with whatever article of the Code has been or is being breached.

“A deposit-taking institution that does not comply with a direction given by the Supervisor commits an offence,” he said, adding that the Code is not a panacea and must be seen as the start of a process and not the end.

The 2014 Banking Services Act, which became effective in September 2015, empowered the BOJ to issue a code of conduct on consumer-related matters in order to establish minimum standards of good banking practices for DTIs..

Following passage of the Act, the BOJ immediately began consultations with a number of organisations, including the deposit-taking industry, the Consumer Affairs Commission and the World Bank.

The effective date of the Code was August 30, 2016. It covers matters relating to disclosure, notification, advisories, access to information, complaints, complaints resolution, confidentiality and record-keeping.

These are key areas that consumers must not only be aware of when conducting business with banks in Jamaica, but must also be protected against should unfair practices arise.

“By the end of November 2016, deposit-taking institutions are required to notify the Supervisor of the measures they will take to be compliant with the Code. These measures should then be in place within a period not exceeding 12 months from the effective date of the Code,” he said.

Mr. Wynter said while this is an important step in Jamaica’s banking services legislative framework, there is still the need for a more comprehensive framework that directly addresses financial consumer protection.

The Governor said the central bank looks forward to working with stakeholders to expand financial inclusion, increase financial literacy and improve the quality of consumer protection in the financial sector.

He added that the BOJ holds DTIs to the highest international prudential standards, so the financial system, overall, is safe and sound.

Representatives from the Consumer Affairs Commission and the Jamaica Bankers Association endorsed the initiative.

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