JNBS goes commercial


Final move pending vote from Diaspora members

After a 7-year process, the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) has been approved by Jamaica’s Ministry of Finance and Planning as a commercial bank. But the group’s new status is still pending, according to the society’s local representative, Janice McIntosh.

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JNBS, says McIntosh, “has to be licensed,” following approval by the Jamaican courts, “to begin functioning as a commercial bank.” The society will also need approval of its members in Jamaica, USA, Canada, and the UK. Meetings with members of the Diaspora in the USA, says McIntosh, will begin in November, when some 35,000 shareholders in South Florida alone may vote to approve the transition to commercial banking.

But, from the strength of their application, and the general positive response from shareholders, “We don’t anticipate any problem with the process,” says McIntosh.

The JNBS made its first application for a commercial bank license in 2008, and resubmitted an application in November 2013. Last week Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips, submitted a letter to the Society informing it of the ministry’s approval to be converted to a commercial bank.

Earl Jarrett, JNBS’ General Manager, calls the approval “a major achievement.”

“We have come a long way since our first application seven years ago,” said Jarrett in a statement. “And we are definitely committed to repositioning JN to better serve our members.”

JNBS is slated to become the third largest commercial bank in Jamaica when it begins operations, with an estimated 12.8 percent of the nation’s banking market. The society will join Jamaica’s six other commercial banks: The Bank of Nova Scotia, First Caribbean International Bank, Citibank, National Commercial Bank, First Global Bank, and Sagicor Bank. The National Commercial Bank has the largest market share with approximately 36 percent, followed by Bank of Nova Scotia with 26 percent.

The move, said Jarrett, was in response to increased demands from the Society’s members for an expanded range of credit products and services, such as personal loans and checking accounts, which are limited to commercial banking. Now equipped with the ministerial approval, the JNBS, along with moving ahead with completing its licensing requirements, can begin reorganizing its group of companies in accordance with Jamaica’s Banking Services Act. The Group includes several companies offering a wide variety of financial and non-financial products and services.

Jarrett said the necessary operational changes to a commercial bank are being made, which will “reposition Jamaica National to successfully chart another 141 years as a bona fide member of the [Jamaican] commercial banking sector.”