Do more to help our economy, banks urged


21-November-2011

When launching this year’s Central Bank anniversary lecture at the International Conference Centre on Friday, Mr Michel said when it comes to innovation, he cannot, however, say he is satisfied with what the institutions are offering to their clients.

“For instance, today not one single bank in Seychelles offers full Internet banking services to their clients! This is not acceptable in this day and age. I am encouraged, however, that some of our banks have indicated that this will be forthcoming. I hope that this will happen sooner rather than later.”

Appealing to the banks to support the economy better, Mr Michel said.
As a nation we are becoming more sophisticated by the day but the level of services that banks give is not up to expectations.

“When we ask foreign investors to come to our shores we want quality investors, but they will turn their backs on us if the quality of services that our banks provide are not up to standard,” he said, calling on banks to invest more in their staff.

He reiterated his wish to see banks give more credit, especially to small and medium-size firms.

 “We have a duty to empower our people. We have a duty to help them better their situation, to do business, expand and create more wealth, more opportunities… But they cannot do so without access to affordable credit.

“Credit remains one of the fundamental drivers of economic growth. Banks can and must reduce interest rates further.
 Bank spreads today are higher than they were before we implemented our economic reforms three years ago – one of the only few black spots when we look at our overall performance during that period. So I urge banks, once again, to go back to the drawing board and contribute more to our economy through more affordable lending rates.

“At the same time let us do more to encourage the savings culture through more attractive savings rates,” he said.

Mr Michel applauded the efforts of our public institutions which he said have grasped technological changes and greatly improved their services.
He congratulated the Central Bank for being one of our institutions that has adopted technological advances to its benefit.

Central Bank governor, Pierre Laporte, stressed the need for banks to “stay technologically competitive”.
“Going forward, the pace and reach of change are unlikely to slow down; if anything, they may actually accelerate,” he said, and announced:

“Recognising this, the Central Bank of Seychelles has been investing heavily in revamping its technological platforms. Before the end of this year the CBS will launch another landmark project – the establishment of an automatic clearing house and settlement system. This project, which will be operational next year, will eliminate the manual processes for cheque clearing.

“Also in 2012 we will automate a large share of regulatory and statistical reporting by financial institutions with the launch of our Supervisory and Statistical Application software.”

He acknowledged the efforts of local financial institutions to improve the quality and range of their products and services through investment in new technologies but also said banks can do more.

“I find it ironic, and almost unacceptable, that one can sit in front of a computer in Seychelles, make payments and transfer funds from one account in Australia to another in the US, and yet one is unable to effect an online funds transfer from an account on Mahé to one on Praslin,” he said.

Mr Laporte said only a few of our banks give online account access and where this exists services are minimal.

“Customers in financial systems of countries well behind Seychelles in terms of economic development enjoy more advanced financial services than us in Seychelles,” he said.

 

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