A delegation of the Island Council had a meeting with the management of the Maduro & Curiel’s Bank (MCB) in Curaçao earlier this week to discuss banking services in Saba and the challenges for Saba clients as a result of the transition from the Windward Islands Bank (WIB) to the MCB.
Island Council Members Vito Charles and Carl Buncamper, accompanied by Island Council Registrar Akilah Levenstone on Monday, November 21st, met with three MCB managing directors and an assistant managing director.
One of the most notable outcomes of this meeting was the pledge of the MCB management to look at the options to reestablish some form of the bank’s presence on Saba. A permanent branch is not very likely, the Island Council delegation was told, but other formats are being considered, such as a pop-up or a storefront concept whereby Saba clients would still be able to get service from a physically present MCB employee.
According to Council Member Charles, MCB’s management acknowledged that there were hiccups in the transition from WIB to MCB on Saba. “The bank received many phone calls in the process, and it opened their eyes to how loyal Sabans have been as clients. Because of this loyalty, MCB is looking at how to best serve Saba customers in the future. They will shortly decide to reestablish the bank’s presence in Saba. They acknowledged that this should be done,” said Charles.
“The bank underestimated that people stayed when they left Saba in 2018. The bank is reevaluating its departure from Saba and looking at how they could reestablish their presence,” said Council Member Buncamper. The Island Council delegation was told that the MCB was working diligently to mitigate the problems with the transition.
The problems with depositing cash, the issues in general that Saba customers face, and the difficulty in getting service on Saba were also discussed in the meeting with MCB management. “We also brought up the matter of the ATM, which is down a lot. This limits the access to cash and complicates doing business on the island,” said Charles.
Another matter that came up was the hassle for customers when transferring funds between banks. MCB management explained that the difficulties with instant transfers were not necessarily a problem with the MCB but with another financial institution that still has to implement instant banking at their end.
The lack of (affordable) mortgages was also discussed, as well as the introduction of modern technology to facilitate more manageable payments and to make it possible for customers to receive cash back at the store. “We emphasized the need for better and modern banking services. And, we hope online services will expand and improve,” said Buncamper.
The Saba delegation invited MCB to the island to meet with their clients to discuss the issues, exchange views and ideas, and discuss the bank’s plans. “People remained with the bank after its departure, and this loyalty needs to be rewarded. People need to have trust in the institution that guards their money and to have regular contact,” said Charles.
The Council Members said it was important to have met MCB’s management. “We are moving forward with this. I remain optimistic. We must keep on it because this is important for the Saba people,” said Buncamper. “It was important to meet with them to discuss the developments and to share what the people and businesses have told us. Financial institutions have a very important role, and they have to take that seriously,” said Charles.