Bank of the Year 2018 -- Jamaica: NCB

Bank of the Year 2018 -- Jamaica: NCB

National Commercial Bank (NCB) is easily setting the pace in Jamaica’s banking industry. For its third quarter, which ended on June 30, the Kingston-based lender, part of the largest financial group in the country, recorded the highest quarterly profits in its history. Net profits jumped 33% year-on-year to 6.98 billion Jamaican dollars ($51.9 million), while loans soared 70% to JMD361 billion and total assets climbed 40% to JMD931 billion.

In the nine months that ended in June, the bank logged higher net profits – JMD20.9 billion – than in the entire previous fiscal year. NCB’s non-banking businesses, such as investment banking, wealth management and pension plans, led the way, while payment services started to pay dividends, CFO Dennis Cohen told investors at the time.

The results were enough for Caribbean Information and Credit Rating Services Limited to maintain NCB’s “good” rating and hold the highest local currency score in Jamaica. Its prominent position in the local banking sector, along with its innovative digital initiatives, make NCB the winner of the award for Bank of the Year in Jamaica.

Improvements to NCB’s core businesses have provided a sturdy platform for increased sales, but the bank has also embarked on a digital drive to diversify its revenue streams and ensure good results for years to come. For starters, NCB launched a fully digital advanced payments services for pre-approved customers in April. It also rolled out a mobile app for Android devices, with plans to introduce an app for iPhone users early next year.

In September, NCB started selling a mobile point-of-sale machine to small businesses, taking payments from Visa, Mastercard, UnionPay and NCB’s own Keycard. And in October, NCB partnered with On Time Taxi Service to offer payment services through the Quisk mobile money account.

NCB has also updated its investment plans in Jamaica and the rest of Caribbean, especially in the tourism, energy, manufacturing and construction industries. The bank already offers corporate investment portfolios in 13 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America. It also allows Canadian investors to buy shares on the Jamaica Stock Exchange through an arrangement with the investment management firm Mandeville Private Client.

On the downside, AM Best downgraded NCB’s insurance business to bb from bb+ in August, saying the company ran a risk by putting most of its investments in Jamaican government bonds. LF