Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 13th 2014 Contents RBC Royal Bank T&T Ltd intends to regain the mar-
ket share of commercial loans that it had up to
December 2011, by the middle of 2015, Jesus Pazos,
the bank s market head for business banking said
during a July 3 interview at RBC s head office in
He said that if the economy is projected to grow by almost 3.0
per cent in 2014, "we expect the total loan book to grow by 3.0
per cent." Up to December 2011, the bank had 24.9 per cent of
the market share of commercial loans, and Pazos target is to raise
it to 25-26 per cent by 2015.
He said he expects the oil and gas industry to play a big role
in the comeback. As an oil and gas economy, he said banks need
to ensure there is more local content in financing. "A lot of the
financing that is being done now is being done outside T&T," he
"Given our core competencies in oil and gas and mining in
Canada, we can leverage off of that experience and expertise through
structured packages for the local market."
All of the major oil and gas companies in T&T are international
companies and therefore they get financing out of the US. "If we
could do some of that in T&T, then it benefits us. The money
stays here. It s here to circulate, to drive our economy. Great for
my numbers because those are normally big numbers," he said.
He said that regardless, the bank will strengthen its services to
the companies that support the big oil and gas exploration projects.
For the large multi-national companies, he said, "We can provide
them with working capital lines here: their payrolls, day-to-day
He added, "When it comes to exploration, those are normally
hundreds of millions of dollars. No local bank here can do that
on its own, but if I can book piece of that in T&T, it helps me."
He said this is one of the advantages of being part of a large inter-
national bank with assets throughout the Americas and Europe.
RBC is the largest bank in Canada and 10th in the world. Locally,
alone the bank can only lend up to US$50 million.
He said the team at RBC is "looking to grow the bank very
aggressively in the coming years," and "wants to recoup bank s
large market," with a target of 26 per cent by 2016.
Pazos said the country is gearing up for elections, adding that
"elections is always a time when governments increase spending."
He said some are in wait and see mode but most are seeing growth.
Asked how is RBC competing in the low interest rate environment,
"For us, innovation is coming with the best solution for our
customers, not just trying to fit everyone into a box. Looking at
the transactions, looking at the clients needs, we come up with
whatever will fit their needs the best, and do the best for them."
He said the bank is working to ensure that customers are getting
the best of RBC and as they grow the bank is growing with them,
not just in T&T but across the region.
"The market is extremely tight. It is impacting a lot of our clients.
I think the Central Bank governor has taken a good step to review
the regime that was put in place. It is clear that the demand at
this stage is outstripping the supply. Hence the long queues across
all the banks. From what I ve seen---data wise---the issue is not
that there isn t enough US in the marketplace.
"I think the challenge we are having is a lot of people have held
that US in accounts, so it;s not being traded, and part of that issue
can take you back to your interest rate environment. Where there
is a US interest rate environment that is on par, or better than the
local interest rate environment, what is the benefit of holding TT
dollars when I could hold US dollars and get the same kind of
rates. It s an actual hedge. So I think that is part of the issue we
are having as well, and as the economy starts to heat up a little
bit, we re going to find greater demand."
However, Pazos does not see T&T having a forex issue long term
"because we are an oil and gas economy and therefore we have
a natural hedge against US dollar movements. I think the issue has
been how do we ensure that the supply coming into the market
place remains stable and constant; very stable and accessible to
our clients. That becomes the biggest challenge because demand
is extremely high, and it s going to get higher and we approach
Christmas where you have to import all your Christmas goods and
so on. You re going to have further demand for US dollars."
But he said the Central Bank has committed to injecting funds
to do whatever is required to keep the confidence in the market,
he said. "I, personally, see no reason why that won t happen."
Asked if there is a de facto forex black market, he said he thinks
one was starting to develop but with the Central Bank interventions
recently, there is no need for that any longer. The price of the US$
has come down to below $6.40 to US$1, he said.
Pazos added that if there was a black market developing it would
make no sense now.
JULY 13 • 2014 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | SBG5
MasterCard has been ranked by Fast Company in
the US, as the 8th most innovative company in the
world for their ability to provide solutions that the
other brands do not."
Fernandes displayed a tool called "Simplify Com-
merce" which is a Web application that enables small
businesses to go online, set up their e-commerce
Web site and start accepting payments.
"This tool, he said, "is available in the US and we
are launching it Brazil. We still have to determine
the interest of the local banks in T&T to determine
how ready they are to bring that in."
He also said they have a tool to help small businesses
manage their buying and selling operation. "What
this does is manage the cash management efficiency
of the back office."
Fernandes explained the MasterCard business net-
work which he said, "is a Web site that you can think
about as a small business toolbox. You, as a small
business can go in there and get information on trade,
which is something very important for this area;
travel; how to get rebates; controls foreign payments;
expense management and so on."
Fernandes said that through the network, Mas-
terCard has set up controls on their issuing banks
Web site. Here, the small business owner can control
and monitor card usage by setting merchant categories,
type of transaction and geographic location where
the card can be used. Business owners can receive
alerts when a transaction occurs as well.
This product has already been launched in the US
and Brazil and MasterCard is looking to launch it in
the Caribbean early next year.
Fernandes also touted the benefits of having a card
given the high level of import/export transactions
the Caribbean does through the Internet. He said
that payment via card was more convenient, more
efficient given the fast pace of the small business
environment and cost less than cash.
"There is a cost to cash, cost of counting cash,
handling cash and securing cash.
We ve done some studies with some corporations
as to how much time they actually spend counting
cash, reconciling cash, writing on a piece of paper.
It takes a lot of time and controls. Imagine if you
can do all of that electronically and that was all auto-
mated. You can increase your sales because you can
be out there selling more and you can actually increase
the operation of your business. In buying, you can
see which suppliers are the most efficient."
"When you look at a small business, look beyond
just payment to what keeps a small business up at
night? What are the key things a small business looks
at?"Drawing his conclusions from MasterCard s
research, Fernandes said small businesses are looking
at: identifying new customers, dealing with the esca-
lating cost of goods and managing cash flow.
He said MasterCard is ready to work toward assist-
ing banks to help small businesses in these three
"It is key that a bank understand its portfolio of
small businesses, segment the portfolio and develop
a value proposition for each one based on their need
to buy, operate and sell."
Fernandes does not only see MasterCard s mission
as improving small business and bank operations but
he said the cards can also help governments formalise
the business economy and understand business cash
flow from a legal stand point by providing information
that cash transactions cannot provide.
to regain 25
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