Banks cut operation hours in response to COVID-19

Banks cut operation hours in response to COVID-19

BY KELLARAY MILES
Business reporter
milesk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

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Several of the country's major banking institutions have sought to reduce opening hours in an effort to play a more proactive role in containing and reducing contact to lessen the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This move comes after the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) this week announced that its supervisory committee has approved the temporary variation of the opening or closing hours for branches of deposit-taking institutions licensed under the Banking Services Act from the statutory minimum weekly period of 25.5 hours to 20 hours per week which took effect on Monday.

“The decision was made based on the developments relating to COVID-19 and the measures proposed to be taken by each deposit-taking institution to minimise the spread of the virus,” a release from the central bank stated whilst also urging the institutions to observe the social distancing protocols articulated by the Government among other measures.

Following on this announcement the National Commercial Bank (NCB) on Monday moved to inform customers of its adjustment to regular opening hours.

“Effective March 23 through to March 27, our branches will be open from 8:30am to 1:30pm

“We have reserved 8:30 am to 9:00 am to exclusively serve our senior citizens. In addition, our customer care centre will operate between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm,” a release informed.

The early closure represents a scale down of the regular hours which ran from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm from Monday- Thursday and 8:30-4:00 pm on Fridays. The bank also encouraged clients and customers to utilise their digital solutions for self-serve banking services including their suite of online banking, GoIPO and mobile applications.

First Global Bank (FGB) also this week enacted similar measures in a bid to monitor the new global health pandemic and ensure customer safety by adjusting their opening hours at all locations from 9:00 am -1:30 pm effective today.

“We encourage all customers to utilise digital channels such as Global Access [our online banking platform] and our mobile banking app- FGB Mobile wherever possible. Make utility bill and credit card payments, transfer funds across commercial banks, check balances and more,” they indicated.

The JMMB Group also announced its own set of adjustments to opening hours to take effect this week, opening to the public from 8:30 am- 1:00 pm on weekdays with the exception of its Portmore branch which will be open from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm.

Gifford Rankine, general manager, group digital services, informed that, “Clients can also now do self-registration online at jm.jmmb.com, so that they can access JMMB Moneyline, which facilitates several transactions that are currently carried out in-branch, among other services such as: bill payment, monitor their accounts, do local and international wire transfers, standing orders, buy and sell stocks, and cambio services.”

The financial conglomerate also reminded clients that all real-time gross settlement (RTGS) fees have also been waived by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) until March 31, to encourage the use of transfers, so that clients can limit direct cash transactions, while making payments easily.

In recent times, the onslaught of COVID-19 has forced a number of financial institutions and businesses alike to scale down operations and also implement new measures to mitigate possible effects. These new measures include the waiver of some fees and bolstering their efforts in fighting against the potential spread and impact of COVID-19.


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If there were no government COVID restrictions, and people were able to decide for themselves about how to manage their risk, how soon would you return to your normal activities?
Right now
11%
After new cases decline
16%
After no new cases
34%
After vaccine developed
24%
I've already returned to my normal routine
15%

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