The Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank, Kojo Mattah, has underscored the need for Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) to adapt to the evolving changes on the business front, and for that matter in the banking space in order to be relevant.
He said there are many transformations taking place on the business landscape, and particularly in the banking ecosystem; such as advances in technology leading to innovative business models like mobile money, and therefore it is imperative for RCBs to endeavour to make the most of all business opportunities presented to them.
According to the World Bank’s World Development Indicators (2018), mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people living in low-and middle-income countries increased from just 40.61 in 2007 to 96.89 in 2016. In the context of Ghana, the National Communications Authority (NCA) as at August 2019 indicated that the number of voice phone subscriptions was 41 million; showing that mobile phone subscription had reached almost 150 percent of the country’s population.
The aforementioned statistics, he alluded, point to the fact that opportunities in the digital banking space are vast and RCBs must critically examine the potentials and strategise to take advantage of the digital banking revolution – as they remain the largest bank branch network in the country, with the largest retail customer base.
“This is the time to begin seeing ourselves as one united army fighting for a common cause, which is to win in the ever increasingly competitive banking space with technological changes taking place at the speed of light. We cannot be left behind the digital banking agenda and cash-lite,” he said.
Mr. Mattah was addressing the opening session of the 18th National Managers’ Conference of RCBs, held at the Eusbett International Conference Centre in Sunyani. The theme for the four-day conference is ‘Sustaining Rural and Community Banking through Digitalisation’.
He said the yet-to-be-launched agency banking by the ARB Apex Bank Limited will rope-in more than 5,000 banking agents across the country. “We currently have World Bank project consultants in-house doing the necessary audits, and further details will be given in other presentations.”
He announced that 35 RCBs have procured and installed a total of 80 ATMs across the country, adding that 55 RCBs have also been issuing cards – meaning that a bank does not necessarily have to install ATMs before it issues cards. He urged all RCBs to leverage acquisition of ATMs or card issuance equipment to provide the much-needed value addition and convenience to customers.
Achieving digital banking
The Executive Director of the Association of Rural Banks (ARB), Mrs. Comfort Owusu, stated that RCBs must partner technology companies operating in the banking space to help achieve digital banking. “The technology companies can periodically impart digital product education to banks’ management and staff and prepare them for the change ahead. Banks must also invest in pilot projects as part of partnering with the technological companies’ evolving products.”
This, she noted, will allow both parties to share each other’s prospects as well as make the bank privy to cutting-edge digital products and services that outwit competition.
On his part, Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Chapter President of the Association of Rural Banks, Joseph Tachie-Djan, observed that the failures or successes of RCBs largely depend on managers and urged them not to betray the trust reposed in them. “If you decide to work for wealth alone at the expense of your dignity, integrity and pride, we are likely to meet challenges.”