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Caribbean Association of Banks: Promoting Financial Success

Striving to provide a collective and unified voice for banks, the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) aims to protect, promote, and strengthen the regional banking sector. CAB leads the way in providing a support system through education and advocacy to benefit the economy. With 81 member banks, CAB operates internationally as a voice for the development of Caribbean financial sectors, with the goal to place these banks into the worldwide sphere of banking.  

In 1974, CAB was established in response to the demand for an association body that would take control of development across the Caribbean financial sectors, which previously relied heavily on external providers to oversee and develop the industry. The goal of CAB is to meet the demand of the people of the region financially, whilst promoting both regional and international regulatory standards and requirements. Now CAB boasts a total asset base of US $41 billion (as of December 2019) across its members spanning 20 territories. CAB facilitates contact between its members and key decision-makers in the region through its 2,000 industry contacts, to place its members in crucial conversations to help the development of the banking sector across the Caribbean.  Therefore, as an association CAB operates with and on behalf of its members to provide a united voice both locally and internationally. Consequently, CAB has established itself as a hub for banking, technology, market intelligence, and services; all with the end goal of protecting and promoting the region’s banking stability.  

Education is crucial for CAB, as through education CAB can train more employees in the financial sector to bolster the economy towards global recognition. As part of its education program, CAB has partnered with The Caribbean Governance Training Institute (CGTI) to offer a series of governance training courses. The courses are offered to CAB’s 81 members to provide them with online delivery of 6 modules, spanning 3.5 hours each with the goal of fitting around the lives of the members’ employees. Furthermore, CAB has partnered with a variety of educational facilities to supply scholarships, including 3 at the University of the West Indies for a BSc in Banking and finance, 2 chartered MBA scholarships with Bangor University and a scholarship to the graduate school of banking at the University of Wisconsin. Consequently, CAB provides its members, and their employees, with global opportunities for personal educational development, with the goal that it will benefit and bring economic development through job opportunities in the country. Therefore, the overarching goal of education and training throughout CAB is to strengthen the Caribbean’s financial sector. 

A key initiative of CAB is regarding de-risking, which is a crucial concern presented by CAB at the Annual Caribbean Financial Roundtable. The association outlined how Caribbean banks are facing more stringent enforcement of regulations, compared to their counterparts in North America which are faced with milder punishments for infringement of regulations. De-risking has had a significant impact on the Caribbean region resulting in a significant loss of correspondent banks within the region, as many have no longer been able to facilitate inter-regional and international payments. The Annual Caribbean Financial Roundtable looked to explore the potential solutions and develop a set of actions in response to this threat on a global scale. CEO Wendy Delmar, speaking on de-risking, said “We are pleased that we have been afforded many opportunities to partner with FIBA, Atlantic Council and a host of other organisations to bring awareness to the issue, as well as to have gotten some traction with reviews of legislation at the US Congressional level. While there have been some small wins in that we have seen more reputable US banks expressing interest in the region, we are still not satisfied with the level of re-engagement or re-boarding currently taking place”. The conference held by the Financial and International Business Association clearly highlights the way de-risking is negatively affecting the Caribbean region. However, it is clear that through CAB’s advocacy that a resolution is being sought for its members exemplifying the crucial role CAB plays in advocacy across the region’s banking sector.    

In an effort towards the future of banking, local banks are pushing towards the future of payment transaction solutions, all with the support of CAB as a governing body. The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT), under CAB, has put provisional registrations in place for two companies, including Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) to use electronic money or ‘e-money’ for payments and transactions. In a press release from February 2023, the two companies under CBTT will be able to enlist new customers in a controlled environment to use e-money, an electronic store of monetary value which can be accessed on a technological device to make payments to entities other than the e-money issuer. This money can be used for payment transactions for those with and without bank accounts. CBTT has registered with PESH Money Limited, a privately owned local company which is aiming to provide its customers with e-wallets for peer-to-peer transfers via mobile wallets to mobile phone users. Furthermore, CBTT has also extended the provisional registration to PayWise Limited too for a further 6 months. Therefore, we can see even on a regional level the banks under CAB are working to bring new and innovative solutions to banking, which with the support of CAB allow them to expand from local banks into leading financial service providers.  

Overall, CAB is supporting the development of banking across the Caribbean and continues to proactively work with all its member banks to be a voice of advocacy across the region’s banking sectors. As an association body, they are working with each bank individually to promote development towards the future technologies of banking to ensure continued profitability and stability. Therefore, with a focus on education and opening up the region to international banking by challenging de-risking regulations, CAB is supporting the continued success of the banking industry across the Caribbean towards a future of strong economic development.