by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
Prior to Thursday, 4 January persons in St Mark wishing to withdraw cash from an ATM had to travel to another parish — the closest St John or St Patrick, the farthest St George (approximately 26 km) — to access financial services.
All that changed with the official launch of the CONNEX ATM, installed by the GUT Cooperative Credit Union (GUTCU). Following the launch, in a release from the credit union, General Manager of GUTCU, Retesha Boyd said, “This is a momentous occasion for the GUT Credit Union and its membership. As a member-operated organisation, our members are at the heart of what we do, and they required this additional service. We are thrilled to provide this 24-hour convenience for them to have safe access to their funds.”
This project was 4 years in the making, and Boyd spoke with NOW Grenada of the challenges that St Mark residents faced in order to access financial services. “The challenge came in our none-office hours, so if [people] wanted to access their funds they did not necessarily have a way to do so; people who were not members but had a debit card would have had to go either in St George’s, St John or St Patrick to find an ATM to access their funds, so because St Mark is in some cases neglected in terms of financial services, we thought it fitting to provide an additional service.”
This service is considered a milestone for the parish which is said to have a 54.5% poverty rate according to the 2007/8 Country Poverty Assessment Survey. Boyd said this move is expected to spur more economic activity in the parish especially around festival times, particularly the annual Sunset City Food Fest which attracts hundreds of people.
She said the credit union continues to receive positive feedback from residents about the convenience of not having to travel far distances to withdraw cash or to make a deposit.
“There are a lot of tourists that come to St Mark and many of them don’t have cash on them. They walk with their debit or credit card and previous to last week, there were no opportunities for them to be able to access that funds; so, it means now that people have that ATM service they don’t have to worry when coming to St Mark to do business. [As] a matter of fact after the launch we met a person there who had an overseas card and they were telling us how happy they are that there is an ATM there.”
CONNEX® is a collaboration of indigenous institutions such as:
- Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited
- The Ariza Credit Union
- Communal Co-operative Credit Union
- Caribbean Credit Card Corporation (4Cs).
The GUTCU also unveiled a machine at the GCNA Complex on Kirani James Boulevard, bringing the total of CONNEX ATMs to 17 islandwide.
Samantha St Louis of St Mark told NOW Grenada via Facebook message that the new machine augers well for the parish, since they no longer have to rush during business hours to get financial transactions done. “It’s convenient now that St Mark has an ATM, and I am enjoying it very much, since I have my Co-op card I can use the teller here and I don’t have to go to St Patrick or St John.”