The Managing Director of ARB Apex Bank Limited, Mr. Kojo Mattah, has urged rural and community banks to embrace the system which enables all 141 of them, with approximately 700 branches scattered across the country, to operate from a common, networked platform.
If they all join the network, it will make the ARB Apex Bank and RCBs the largest networked banks in the country; and according to Mr. Mattah this will bring about more efficiency in service delivery.
Speaking at the 16th Annual General Meeting of ARB Apex Bank in Kumasi, he said: “We believe that in the financial intermediation space, bigger is better when done properly. Therefore, let us all come together so that we can truly compete”.
He urged the directors of RCBs to embrace the initiative, urging RCBs that have exited the platform to reconsider their decision and encouraging those that are yet to join to speed up their efforts.
The ARB Apex Bank, which regulates the rural banking space, has also initiated concrete steps to improve upon service quality across all RCBs.
As part of this strategy, it is facilitating the rebranding and refreshing of all RCBs brands.
It is also developing a customer service standard that will be shared with the RCBs. These two strategies, it believes, will allow the industry to withstand competition from all angles.
Mr. Mattah believes this is critical, because if branches of all RCBs are standardised and front-line associates have the requisite product knowledge and are customer-centric, customers will be happy walking into any RCB banking hall to access banking services.
Mr. Mattah assured rural banks which are also shareholders of the Apex Bank that after completion of all major projects in 2017, the Apex Bank will be focusing on raising the rural banking industry’s image to make it the main driving force for development and transformation of Ghana’s rural economy.
It will do this by supporting government’s flagship industrialisation projects, such as the One District, One Factory (1D1F), to ensure financial inclusion for all.
The Apex Bank made modest gains in the year under review as compared to the 2016 financial year.
Total deposits for the period grew from GH¢231.9million in 2016 to GH¢277.9million in 2017, representing a growth of 19.8%.
Total assets grew by 19.0% from GH¢273.9million in 2016 to GH¢326.4million in 2017.
Shareholders’ funds also increased – from GH¢24.8million in 2016 to GH¢29.2million in 2017, representing an increase of 17.7%.
A profit after tax of GH¢4.4million was achieved for the year under review; up from a loss of GH¢13.6million recorded in 2016, representing an increase of about 132.0%.
The Bank maintained its status as the sole representative of all Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) at the on-line Bankers’ Clearing House, and guaranteed payment instruments of the RCBs.
The total volume and value of cheques handled in 2017 were 170,732 and GH¢3,323.1million respectively, as compared to 180,440 and GH¢2,718.8million in 2016.
Total ACH items handled during the period under review was 24,690, with a value of GH¢659.4million.
Even though the Apex Bank’s star product ‘Apexlink is facing stiff competition from other money transfer products such as Mobile Money, it continues to enjoy good patronage from the public.
As a way of improving its acceptability as an alternative to mobile financial services being offered by the telecommunications companies, management has reviewed downward commissions for transaction amounts below GH¢500 on the Apexlink.
The number of transactions for Apexlink dipped from 124,769 valued at GH¢483.1 million in 2016, to 81,308 transactions valued at GH¢457.6million, in 2017.