GBTI launches Visa Card
By Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
December 1, 2006

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GUYANA Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), the largest Guyanese-owned financial institution, yesterday launched its Visa Travel Classic Card which enables holders to carry out money transactions abroad without the use of cash.

Speaking at the launch at the bank’s Kaieteur Road Recreational Centre in Bel Air Park, Georgetown, Chief Executive Officer Radhakrishna Sharma, who was ecstatic about the offering of such a service, called the development a proud moment for the bank.

“Our pride lies in the fact that we were able, as a Guyanese entity, firstly to be approved membership of Visa International, and secondly to within a few months, put the infrastructure and operational capacity in place to launch our Visa Card product in Guyana,” Mr. Sharma declared.

The issuance of the card, the CEO observed, is both a milestone for the bank and Guyana as it means the country is now on the international card map.

“It is not a coincidence that the GBTI Visa Travel Classic Card will carry the Kaieteur Falls logo just as the GBTI debit card, because the bank feels that this symbol is readily identified with Guyana and is one of the most famous tourist attractions. Consequently, when you use the GBTI Visa Travel Classic Card, you contribute to placing not just GBTI on the international scene, but in the broader scope, you contribute to placing Guyana - our country out front and in the first world,” he said.

Sharma observed that in a world where globalisation is the “prevailing mantra”, small economies like Guyana come under pressure as their unique national identities, cultures and institutions become diminished and each successive loss becomes a further erosion of pride.

“Now more than ever we must reflect on our successful business entities that operate in our locally owned and locally developed culture and institutions that have risen to attain international competitiveness and stature, and we must demonstrate such pride in our supportive actions,” he exhorted.

Banks, by virtue of their intermediation role, he said, create wealth, jobs and investment and in the process change the economic and physical landscape of a country.

And in this regard, GBTI has introduced several retail banking products that have significantly enhanced the livelihood of Guyanese, the CEO noted, adding that the bank’s customers have access to affordable financing to purchase low income houses, vehicles, household electrical appliances, and for medical and educational purposes.

On the commercial front, he said the bank offers specially designed financing packages for diverse industries, disclosing that it has been involved in a Guyanese company acquiring a multi-million dollar quarry, financing the construction of the newest mall and has invested significantly in the construction of a modern hotel.

“We are proud of our capacity to offer this service to Guyanese as it gives them the power of the Visa international brand to make purchases wherever Visa is accepted - and I can let you know that it means at over 19 million merchants and one million Visa Plus ATMs in 145 countries,” he said.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the bank, Mr. Robin Stoby, alluding to the world being “fast paced”, said there is a need to make use of the technological advances in order to make the lives of people better

He indicated that the bank has been following the advances and trends and the changing lifestyles of the average Guyanese and has discovered he/she has a computer, travels abroad intermittently, has more disposable income, engages in commerce and is very security conscious and this has led GBTI to concluding that a Visa travel card would be most useful to the average Guyanese.

He recalled that the bank opened a branch at Lethem, Rupununi last year and now the Visa card -- seemingly two different directions in such a short space of time – but said this is an indication of “our core value of not leaving any stone unturned in offering the highest quality of service to the Guyanese public.”

He also revealed that another year of solid performance by GBTI is just ahead and the public can look forward to more products similar to the card in the future.

The prepaid card can be loaded up to US$5,000 and can be used to make purchases, pay for services shop online or obtain cash advances.

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