What is going on with the commercial banks in TCI?

Serious woman in long line

What is going on with the commercial banks in TCI?

Has the digital transformation made matters worse?



In the Turks and Caicos, there are three main commercial banks namely Scotia bank, RBC and CIBC. It is becoming very frustrating dealing with some of these banks. I am not talking about myself because there are people within these banks whom I can call and who can assist me with some of these frustrations that others are experiencing. Unfortunately, most customers do not have access to some of the employees and so they must endure the frustrations.

Many of the banks say they have gone digital, and the customers should experience an improvement. However, it seems that the digital transformation is making matters worse or is it just a coincidence. Who is monitoring these banks or are they being monitored?

Reduction in the number of branches

I understand and appreciate that companies must review their bottom line and determine whether it is feasible to remain in business. I can only assume that this is one of the reasons why the two of the banks closed their Grace Bay branches and Grand Turk branch. I get it, business is business but when a decision is made such as closing a branch, the banks should provide the customers with reliable alternative means of banking.

Last week, I ran into a customer from Grand Turk who was in Providenciales to close her bank account because it is very challenging to do business with the bank that closed its branch in Grand Turk. I think the bank should have at least visit Grand Turk at least on a weekly basis to meet with the customers.

The reduction in the number of branches have made matters worse for customers because now there is only one branch to serve the growing population of Turks and Caicos. Ironically in the past, companies used to complain that we need a bigger population and now that we have a bigger population, it is still not enough to maintain two branches.

Online banking is good but still needs improvement.

While online banking has improved significantly over the years, there is still room for improvement. I recalled more than two years ago, I could have paid my US American Express online, somehow this feature has discontinued, and so customers must go the bank physically to pay American Express. Despite the repeated requests to reinstate this feature, it has yet to be done.

ATMs consistently not functional

The banks are encouraging customers to use the ATMs for withdrawals and deposits. Some banks prohibit customers from coming inside the bank to withdraw funds if the amounts are under a certain threshold.

The thing is if the ATMs were functioning consistently, then this would be a great thing for customers to use the ATMs rather than coming in the bank. However, there is one bank where the ATMs are not functional on a consistent basis and if the ATMs are up, either the cash withdrawal function or the deposit function is not working. I get that there is only so much cash an ATM can hold, then perhaps this needs to invest in more ATMs or have someone to monitor these ATMs daily.

Long queues

Despite the digital transformation, the promotion of the use of online banking and the discontinuation of business deposits, the lines at the banks remain very long. Even though the banks do not open until 9am, some customers are in line from 730am.

One of the reasons why there is a long queue is that there are not enough tellers. Sometimes there are only one or two tellers. I met some customers who were waiting in line for at least two hours and the sad thing is when some of these customers reach the teller, the teller informs them they can’t assist them with their transactions.

I know it is a challenge finding staff. However, what the banks should do is to have someone reach out to the customers in line to determine their needs. Perhaps the customers may not need to be in line. During the conversation with a banker, the banker said many individual customers are in line to do wire transfers.

The banks should also consider extending their bank hours because the digital transformation is not effective at this time.

Wire transfer

Speaking about wire transfer, I must commend one of the banks that make wire transfer transactions simple. However, I cannot say the same thing about all the banks. There is one bank that requires both signatories in the bank to do wire transfers. In the past, they would call the second signatory to confirm which I thought was fine. A banker suggested that we email the wire transfer instructions. I tried that but unfortunately it takes about three days to get a response from your email. Fortunately, I understand that the customers should see improvements soon and should be able to do wire transfer online.

Interest rates

It appears that some customers can get a better interest rate than other customers. This tells me that the banks can offer some of the customers a reduced rate. I know banks must make a profit and it is based on the spread between the interest rates they receive and the interest rates they charge customers. However, a review of this spread must be done.

Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account can be very discouraging due to requirements and the length of time it takes to open a bank account. I know the bank must do due diligence but with the technological transformation, one should not have to wait that long or have so much paperwork. Some banks do not even help you with the completion of the forms.

Clearing house

This is 2024 and customers still must wait three to five days for a cheque from another bank to be cleared. I must commend one of the banks that provide their premium customers with a cash feature of up to 1500 daily if you have a cheque from a different bank.

A clearinghouse is essential in Turks and Caicos to avoid having to wait for three to five days.


I know this is a different era where there is an explosion of technology and a cashless society. However, we have yet to reap the full benefits of this digital transformation. When I complained to the managing director about the ATMs, the Managing Director mentioned the different services the bank is offering but my response was if the ATMs are consistently down, the different services are meaningless. The Atm must be working to facilitate and benefit from the new services being offered.

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