‘Rural’ tag must not deter RCBs from being innovative – Dr. Tony Aubynn

The Board Chairman of Amenfiman Rural Bank, Mr. Tony Aubynn, has advised management of rural banks to adapt to the wave of change within the banking environment and invest in technology to make banking easy and effective for customers, and not be dissuaded by their rural label.

He said when rural banks are able to make their customers also benefit from the current products and services in the system, it will put them in a position to even compete with the universal banks.

He said: “The fact that our name has the tag ‘rural’ doesn’t mean we should not do what will help our customers, shareholders, our communities benefit from technology and other means that will make our work easy and effective”.

Dr. Aubynn explained that the addition of rural and community to the banking services was among others adopted by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to reflect the bank’s focus in serving the majority of unbanked people in rural areas, and also provide support to agriculture and small businesses.

This, he stressed, should not be interpreted to mean that the activities of rural banks must reflect times past, but rather should be aligned to current trends.

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The Amenfiman Rural Bank, headquartered at Wassa Akropong in the Western Region, leads in innovation in the rural banking industry with its introduction of automated teller machines (ATMs) at almost all its branches to the convenience of customers.

In addition to this, the Board Chairman hinted the bank is also exploring avenues to deploy more modern products and services – like the Internet or electronic banking services (e-banking) to enable customers transact business with their bank electronically from the convenience of their homes and business locations.

Dr. Aubynn observed that such innovation will among others ensure that financial transactions between the bank and its customers become easy, thus contributing to making the bank more attractive to potential customers.

Commenting on support packages provided by Amenfiman Rural Bank to assist the agriculture sector, he appealed for government to make use of rural banks to achieve its target of transforming the agriculture sector.

He asserted that the rural banks are among the few institutions that are closer to farmers, and therefore government should consider using them in its dealings with the farmers – especially with implementation of the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programe.

“If government is unsure, it could pilot this idea by using some of the best-performing rural banks like Amenfiman Rural Bank,” he added.

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Dr. Aubynn, who is also the Western Regional President of the Association of Rural and Community Banks, speaking in an interview with B&FT also appealed for an extension of the BoG’s directive deadline for rural banks to raise their Stated Capital.

He said the fact the some few rural banks, about 40 out of the about 140 RCBs in the country, have met the requirement does not mean pleas of the other banks should be ignored. However, he equally advised the remaining rural banks yet to meet the requirement to deepen their efforts at raising the required capital.

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