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Barclays History in the Caribbean

The early decades of the nineteenth century saw the establishment of the first joint stock banking companies in England, providing greater resources and security for shareholders and customers. Against this background, and the favourable economic conditions in both England and the West Indies, a group of merchants and bankers in London decided to establish a bank to operate in the West Indies.



1836 A Royal Charter to establish this bank, with the name The Colonial Bank, was granted on 1 June 1836, and the following May offices were opened across the Caribbean, commencing with offices in Barbados, Trinidad and British Guiana, and continuing later in 1837 with representation in St Lucia, Grenada, Antigua, Dominica, St Kitts, St Vincent, the Danish Virgins and Kingston, Jamaica.
1840 to 1950      Throughout much of the nineteenth century, the Colonial Bank operated as a virtual monopoly in the Caribbean, with the only serious competition being from the West India Bank in the 1840s. The spread of representation across the Caribbean islands provided a degree of resilience to local economic circumstances, and the Colonial Bank proved to be a commercial success.

There were few changes for the Colonial Bank over the first hundred years of its existence. The economy of the West Indies remained based on primary production, with sugar of overwhelming importance, and the Bank's business remained what it had always been - financing agriculture and trade. In most countries it was also banker to the Government.
1950 to 1980
For the Colonial Bank, now known as Barclays Bank, the pace of change became perceptible from the 1950s, when George Gilbert Money arrived to head the Caribbean region from headquarters in Barbados. At that stage, all clerical staff were white, although a few coloured clerical staff had been engaged in Jamaica and British Honduras (Belize). George Money immediately began the practice of hiring suitable people without regard to colour, a policy started by Barclays and followed two or three years later by the rest of the region's banks.
1980 to 2001     
The 1980s saw banks in the Caribbean being computerised, and Barclays branches changed from the traditional mechanical and electronic accounting machines to being fully computerised. Barclays was the market leader in the provision of credit card services, and introduced the first Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), linking these in to the worldwide credit card network providing great benefit and convenience for tourists wishing to obtain cash advances.
On July 23, 2001 Barclays and CIBC announced that they were in advanced discussions which were intended to lead to the combination of their retail, corporate and offshore banking operations in the Caribbean to create FirstCaribbean International Bank™ Implementation of the combination would be subject to required approvals from government and regulatory authorities.

On October 31, 2001 Barclays Bank PLC and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce reached agreement to combine Caribbean operations to establish FirstCaribbean International Bank™
With over 150 years of representation in the Caribbean, Barclays has a long history to look back on. Its past success is demonstrated by the fact that we have remained the largest bank in all its original countries with just three exceptions, Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana, where they no longer have branch representation. To accomplish this, and to continue to do so, they provided a wide range of services, some traditional, some new.

As well as continuing to serve the local population and industries, in recent years Barclays has worked with other local professionals and the regional governments to fashion the offshore finance industry of the region. To support this, we have established dedicated offshore banking centres in five Caribbean territories, Barbados, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
2006 On 22 December 2006, CIBC acquired Barclays stake and became the majority shareholder in FirstCaribbean.

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