GROS ISLET: Following the conclusion of the 40th annual general meeting and conference of the Caribbean Association of Banks, delegates are exploring innovative technologies that will change the way banking is conducted in the Caribbean.
“We have started a new conversation about changes to the market, the operations of banks, the way we operate the banking system and the growing expectations of customers,” said Melissa Marchand, Managing Director of Global News Matters (GNM), a Caribbean and international information service.
The Caribbean Association of Banks meeting provided a platform through which financial institutions across the region shared their experiences, ideas and expertise in tackling internal and external challenges to the financial services sector and the economies of the region.
Held under the theme “Redefining Strategy – The Leadership Challenge”, the conference, which was held from November 13 to 16, addressed topics such as increasing shareholder value, the role of social media in customer relations, growth challenges and risk strategies.
Marchand said delegates discussed the different technologies now available and the widespread use of social media.
“We have seen changes to the way people do their banking in North America, Europe and other parts of the world and we now see those changes being introduced in the Caribbean, so we can’t expect them to evolve differently in the Caribbean than they have in other markets,” she said.
Among the topics addressed at the conference were the use of social media tools in managing the customer experience; strategies for providing better customer service, more customer-focused initiatives and data driven information; and technologies that can be used to explain to customers the need to charge fees and commissions.
“All in all, our mission was to engage in rethinking strategies that can make the sector more attractive and transparent to customers,” she said.
The bankers, along with other financial experts, also discussed widespread reports of fraud within the system.
Marchand said that fraud in the banking system evolves in a similar manner as technology and that new techniques are being used by fraudsters.
“As technology advances rapidly, fraud will surface just as fast, so it’s a question of banks being prepared to protect themselves and their customers,” she said.
Bank representatives attending the conference also reported that their operations were affected by a high level of nonperforming loans and unemployment problems.
Marchand said although the financial sector has been under some level of distress, like Caribbean economies, experts remain “cautiously optimistic” as the sector presses ahead with a plan for a return to normalcy.