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National Commercial Bank – Jamaica’s Largest Bank
National Commercial Bank (NCB) has its origin dating back to 1837. It was at this time the Colonial Bank of London headquartered in England, made its presence felt in Kingston. The banking practices that were prevalent in the country then, began to change over the years, following which a series of mergers and acquisitions took place. This gave birth to National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited in August 1977.
Four years later, in 1981, the bank launched Keycard – its first credit card. This is the first credit card to be launched by a Jamaican bank. As NCB began expanding its operations, it introduced the NCB-SME that focused on offering financial solutions and services exclusively for small and medium enterprises.
Today, the bank is the biggest financial institution in the country and has a wide network of branches, automated banking machines (ABM), iABMs and kiosks across the island to its credit. NCB offers many personal and business products and services that are almost on par with what the international banks in the country have to offer. The bank is governed by both the local banking laws and the laws of the country.
NCB’s Recognition on an International Level
The year 2011 saw NCB receiving worldwide recognition. The bank was the proud recipient of three international awards. These are the Global Banking and Finance Award for being the best bank in the country, Euromoney’s Award for Excellence, and The Banker’s Award for Best Bank of the Year -CARICOM. Interestingly, the bank was the first financial institution to receive the Global Banking and Finance Award ever since the award was initiated.
The Banker Magazine from London also listed the bank among the top performing banks of the world. The institution also ranked at the third and 14th positions internationally with regard to return of capital and assets respectively.
Personal Banking Offerings
With the aim of giving its customers the best service, NCB has many private and premium banking services on offer. Customers can open savings and chequing accounts, as well as acquiring debit, credit, and prepaid cards. The minimum age to open an account with the bank depends on the account that you would like to open. The difference between a prepaid card and a debit card is that the Keycard Cash prepaid card can be used by anyone who is more than 12 years of age. The card allows cash reloads through a branch or through online or telephone banking. Using the Keycard Cash prepaid card has the advantage of getting a cash-back of 1% on any purchase made with the card. It can also be used to pay bills and top up prepaid mobile phone numbers at any of the ABMs of the bank.
The bank also provides various types of personal loans, auto loans, and mortgages at feasible interest rates. Additionally, NCB offers retirement and educational plans, as well as many investment and insurance products. You can make investments in US dollars, Canadian dollars, and GBP, apart from Jamaican dollars. The financial institution also offers advice on helping one to understand whether a conservative, moderate or aggressive investment plan will work best for them.
Business Banking Offerings
For businesses, the financial institution offers different types of banking such as corporate, treasury & correspondent, and online banking. NCB also provides checking accounts in the form of business current accounts and a series of savings and value plans. Operating a business current account allows businesses to make use of overdraft services, short-term borrowing on the current account and personalised cheque leaves. The account also helps businesses with an easy way of keeping a record of all associated financial transactions. Statements for the current account are available for various time periods that can be daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly. Additionally, the bank provides its own as well as VISA co-branded credit cards for businesses to take what best suits them.
The bank provides investment options, auto loans, secured loans and unsecured loans depending upon the size and requirement of the business. Merchants have access to point-of-sale, bill payment, and e-commerce solutions.
Downfalls of Using NCB
Although NCB covers almost all the vital banking requirements of its customers, one of the major drawbacks is that it does not have debit VISA and Mastercard cards that are offered worldwide. This is a major inconvenience as customers are unable to access their money through a debit card when they travel. Customers unable or unwilling to take a credit card are left having to seek out other financial solutions when travelling. In 2011, a Jamaica Gleaner news release said that the bank had no intention of making the facility of VISA debit cards available. As of now, the financial institution has made no change to the decision. If it continues like this, NCB will be one of the very few banks in the country and international market that does not support this internationally recognized card. This can mean that there are fairly high chances of the bank ranking a step lower than international banks or other banks in the country that offer these cards.
Moreover, you can use the NCB kiosk to only transfer amounts between the accounts with Jamaican dollar currency that are linked to a MIDAS debit card. In other words, it does not support fund transfer to a foreign currency account. Only funds between NCB accounts that can be accessed at ABMs and iABMs can be transferred.
NCB has created a new trend in the financial sector of Jamaica. This is the first bank in the country to offer its own private label and local proprietary credit cards along with co-branded counterparts. Most branches of the bank serve their customers during the regular bank working hours. Keeping in mind that customers are their key assets, some branches offer extended working hours so that one can reach out to them for a while longer than normal business hours. There are also a few branches and iABMs that render their services all through the day, every day of the week.