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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 13, 2024


At the start of this week, the island of St. John became home to six non-bank automated teller machines that could, for a nominal fee, save time for residents and visitors alike.
Frank Nassetta, the president of Caribbean Exchange Enterprises, and his assistant, Kim Holdridge, raced around the island Monday and Tuesday activating the ATMs – two at the Westin resort, one at Caneel Bay, one at the fire station in Coral bay, one up on Bordeaux Mountain at Paradise Innovations and one in Cruz Bay at the Azzuz Pizzeria in Wharfside Village.
According to Nassetta, a man in Coral Bay told him putting in a cash machine there was the greatest news since St. Thomas opened its first Kmart at Tutu Park Mall.
Five years ago, St. John had one bank.When a second opened in the mid-1990s, customers wanting cash had a choice of establishments but still just one location – downtown Cruz Bay. That was it, until the cash machines went into service Monday and Tuesday.
Nassetta, whose company is based in Frederiksted, said tourist demand for quick, easy access to cash was the main impetus for setting up the St. John ATMs – and the reason three of them are located at resorts.
Caribbean Exchange is the only company licensed in the Virgin Islands to operate non-bank ATMs so far, although Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Andrew Rutnik said Thursday that his office has received an application from a second firm. Until a recent change in the law, only banks could install and operate such machines in the territory.
Westin Resort general manager Greg Lundberg said having the machines on property "enhances our customer service. We have a lot of guests who ask at the front desk where they can get cash," and until now they've had to send them into town to a bank. "Now," he said, "we have the service right here on our premises."
What's more, Lundberg said, he plans to install another machine at the security gate for use by resort workers.
Nassetta said tourist transactions will probably be the primary source of revenues brought in by the machines. A fee is assessed for each "swipe" of the customer's credit or debit card. The machines installed for use by residents in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay are not expected to generate as much business, he said, but were set up as a service to the community.
In addition to the six ATM's on St. John, Caribbean Exchange has installed 15 on St. Croix and 18 on St. Thomas in recent weeks, for a total of 39 in the territory. He projected that it will take six months to a year for the company to recover the costs of shipping and installing the devices.

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