British multinational banking and financial services company, Barclays, has confirmed that it has removed Jamaicans from its client rolls. In a bid to reduce risk and prop up core business, the bank said the move is a new initiative to close out accounts for those having Jamaican addresses.
September 11 marked the closure of its UK accounts; revealing that some 450 clients will be affected, the bank said. The decision by Barclays was highlighted this week when Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) issued a statement offering transactional services to Jamaicans who have been displaced by the action of the UK bank.
In all fairness, Barclays had announced at the end of 2013 that it would be going down this route under a new strategy laid out by its Wealth and Investment Management unit. The aim – to focus on core markets and reduce the number of countries that the banking group operates in.
As a global financial services provider, “we evaluate the services we provide on a regular basis. In 2013, we announced that we are prioritising the need to reduce complexity and that the business will be focusing on a core set of 70 markets globally,” a spokesperson for the bank said.
Jamaica is one of some 130 countries with which the three-centuries-old bank signalled it is cutting ties. The bank has opted to refocus from 200 countries to just 70. The bank’s actions are linked to a worldwide retreat from businesses perceived to be exposed to money laundering.
JNBS’ senior manager for corporate affairs and public policy, Paulette Simpson, said that many returning residents from the United Kingdom maintain a UK account to receive pensions and other payments; which are in pound sterling – as the currency is strong and not affected by constant devaluation. The returnees access pound sterling if and when they visit the UK; and access pound sterling from Jamaica for transactions in the UK.
Barclays recently said that it recognises its customers may need more time to make alternative arrangements. Consequently the bank is offering a 30-day extension or more, and has a specialist team dealing with customers struggling to make alternative arrangements.