Scotia unveils small business banking suite

– moves to curb cash transactions

Scotiabank yesterday un-veiled its Small Business Banking (SBB), a suite of products, which promises to help proprietors grow their businesses.

Amanda St Aubyn

SBB was designed to meet the unique and evolving needs of local businesses operating at a significantly higher level than microenterprise. The full suite of what Scotiabank described as business solutions includes revolving credit, term loan, savings account, chequing account, Scotia Online and a Master Card Business Card.

The Master Card Business Card provides the security and convenience of using an internationally recognised instrument and allows business owners to earn material rewards for business-related expenses. It also simplifies tracking and reporting of all spending thereby increasing financial control and provide for deferred or extended payments to prevent short-term revenue gaps.

Other notable features of the suite are overdraft protection and credit line. Further, Scotiabank has also introduced Internet Banking Cash Management Services to its online channel. These features allow customers a range of services from information reporting to electronic transfer payments from the convenience of their own offices.

Before designing the SBB suite, Scotiabank conducted research in Guyana and across the region to better understand needs of small business owners. The research concluded that the short-term goals of these businesses are to increase profitability, improve administration practices, manage cash flow and be able to reinvest in the business. Longer-term goals include growth by increasing staff, product line and geographical expansion and improving facilities.

During her speech, Country Head of Scotiabank Guyana, Amanda St Aubyn said that when they bank speaks of small businesses it is not referring to microenterprises.

Minister of Finance Ashni Singh; Bank of Guyana Governor Lawrence Williams and Deputy Governor Dr Nanda Gopaul were also present at the launching.

The Ministry of Finance is among the organisations collaborating with Scotiabank on the SBB services. Singh noted that Scotiabank testifies to Canada’s strong relationship with Guyana and the Caribbean.

Singh said he has participated in other launchings by Scotiabank and over the years has seen its commitment to contributing to better access to financial services. Guyana, Singh believes, has a strong, well regulated financial sector which is very liquid. Given the global financial crisis the liquidity is welcome, he said.

The finance minister said progress is being made in ensuring that the private sector has more access to bank loans. He pointed out, referring to his budget speech last Monday, that in 2009 there was an increase in credit to the private sector. There is potential, Singh said, for this growth to be sustained and improved.

The Government of Guyana, Singh continued, has done its share to address such challenges in the financial sector. The Commercial Court was established to deal with private sector matters to ensure that they are dealt with in an efficient manner. There has also been talk of improving that court possibly by adding another judge.

Government has also been giving attention to the credit reporting industry. Credit evaluation, Singh said, is very costly for banks and potential borrowers (while they have good credit records from other lending institutions and hire purchase companies) are denied loan opportunities.

The process of modernization, Singh stated, is ongoing and visible in Guyana. Not so long ago, according to him, there were few merchants here who accepted credit cards. Banks are now offering a range of technology supported services.

Businesses are being given the option of processing their payrolls through the bank.

Singh said that today there is no reason for anyone to be paid in cash. He applauded the moves to make the economy less cash dependent and for persons to make use of the credit and debit cards available. For every dollar kept on a business’ premises the owner incurs a cost, he noted. The cash must be transported and secured.

However, the minister noted that despite the progress made, Guyana is nowhere near where it should be, but said he hoped that the rate of growth is sustained as it will take the country where it should be.

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