Residents of Virgin Gorda are making the switch to Banco Popular following its maiden opening on the sister island last week.
For South Valley resident Roman Telemaque, making the switch was easy considering what he described as bad experiences when banking services had left the sister island more than a year ago.
He said one of his worst experiences was having to take two trips from Virgin Gorda to Tortola to change a cheque. He said the entire venture cost him $220 in expenses. He also missed a day’s pay.
“I’m a member of the First Caribbean Bank and Scotiabank. But I was forced to join the bank about two weeks ago knowing that the bank is coming up here and it was going to make things easier for me. So I’m now a member of Banco Popular,” Telemaque said.
“Now that the bank is opened, a lot of people are switching from Scotia to Banco right now. Even some of the new establishments that are now opening their doors are sending their staff here (Banco) to open an account, so they’ll send the payment straight to the account.”
When BVI News visited the island on Friday, November 8, our news centre observed more persons conducting business inside the bank as opposed to queueing at the Automated Teller Machine — more commonly known as an ATM.
“You wouldn’t see the line by the teller machine now even though today is Friday and they usually would have a long, extended line by the teller machine. But seeing that people are not yet members of Banco, they would rather go into Banco now and sort themselves out,” Telemaque explained.
Privileged to have bank
Tower Road resident Alston Benjamin is another new customer to the financial institution. He too described the experience having no bank on the sister island as inconvenient.
“It is very hectic when you have to leave; especially when you finish working on a Friday and you have to go all the way to Tortola. It is so hectic cause you’re tired, you’re hungry, you want to go home,” Benjamin stated.
“Because you live in Virgin Gorda, you have to catch a boat and sometimes you miss the boat and the little machine that Scotia have here, sometimes you go and it has no money.”
Three days of walk-in banking better than none
Valley resident Ezikiel Andrews told BVI News having no bank on the sister island was beginning to take a toll on some residents.
“We needed something better and this is the best thing that they have done right now; bringing Banco here,” Andrews stated. “If anything happens to anybody like any emergency, you know you could just come to the machine and get your money and go but when you don’t have it, it would be a really difficult thing.”
When asked how he felt about having only three days of service available during the week, he said: “With me, I’m happy for the three days because if you don’t have nothing at all and you get three days, you have to thank God for it.”
Another resident from the Valley Avril Farrel said the return of banking has brought a lot of relief.
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