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Opposition wants central bank to intervene in ATM availability issue

Julian Robinson
By Clinton McGregor    
 
The parliamentary opposition has called for the Bank of Jamaica to intervene in the growing crisis facing customers seeking to withdraw or deposit cash at automated teller machines (ATMs) across the island.
 
There are growing call for banks to provide more ATMs across Jamaica as customers are faced with undesirable circumstances the machines.
 
Customers have been complaining of long lines and lack of cash at the machines.
 
Speaking with Radio Jamaica News on Friday afternoon, Opposition Spokesman on Finance Julian Robinson dismissed claims by the Jamaica Bankers Association that increased vandalism and attacks on courier vehicles have contributed to the crisis.
 
According to Mr. Robinson, local banks are failing to fulfill their obligations to their customers as required by law. 
 
"There's some basic minimum service standards that every single financial institution should abide by. If you have ATMs, they should be operational let's say, for example, 75% of the time, which means that if you're going there to do transaction, like with drawing cash, they should have cash."
 
The problem, he said, is that banks are "forcing people out of branches", telling them to use online means of banking, but are failing to do their part in ensuring their systems work. 
 
"When you go to the ATMs, the majority of the ATMs don't work. They don't have enough cash. So what are people to do when you must need cash for specific transactions? Yes, there are people who are going to use online banking, but for the elderly, for example, they are not going to use online banking. So what exists right now?" he questioned. 
 
While he acknowledged that vandalism and other attacks on couriers have negatively affected banks, he argued that the limited number of working ATMs is unacceptable.  
 
Mr. Robinson added that banking customers in rural Jamaica are feeling the brunt of the crisis, as there is none or just one in some parishes. 
 
"So the BOJ, as the regulator, has to step in here. If you're pushing people out of the branches because you want to reduce your cost, you must ensure that the other channels are available. And an ATM is an absolute necessity," he insisted.  
 


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