The future of banking is digital – and that places the onus on rural and community banks (RCBs) to commit to technology that will help them survive stiff competition and become sustainable, Executive Director of the Association of Rural Banks (ARB-Ghana), Mrs. Comfort Owusu, has indicated.
Addressing the 18th National Managers Conference for RCBs organised by the ARB Apex Bank in the Bono Region, she encouraged rural banks to leverage data-driven dynamic decisions as a tool to enhance proper planning toward growth and expansion.
“Digitalisation has found many ways and means of accessing banking services, and this calls on us as rural and community banks to radically alter our perspectives and context of business in order to stay strong and maintain growth in the face of stiff competition in the banking industry,” she said.
She added: “There is a high price to pay if we do not embrace digitisation; however, if we pursue the goal of digitalising our operations as rural and community banks, there is much to be gained”.
Mrs. Owusu said digitisation, which encompasses the designing of mobile-based products and services, will enable rural and community banks to enhance the banking experience to clients as they [customers] can easily manage large amounts and make transactions conveniently.
“For instance, digitalisation reduces human error; when clients realise that they do not have to spend time at the bank resolving errors and issues, their loyalty to the bank is built.
“It will reduce the long queues in banking halls and the stress of having to deal with clients on a one-on-one basis, as well as increase productivity since much work can be done in less time,” she stressed.
According to her, one concrete step to achieving digitalisation will be for RCBs to partner with tech-based companies operating in the banking space.
Mrs. Owusu indicated: “These fin-techs could periodically impart tech-based products and education to the management and staff of RCBs, which will prepare them for the changes ahead.
“Secondly, those tech-based products born out of RCB’s partnership with the fin-techs should be piloted or experimented to ensure the rolling-out of viable and cutting-edge products and services tailored to the need of clients, and can stand competition.”
At the top-level, she advised rural and community banks to adopt a framework that will enable them to monitor the digitisation process, including building a roadmap that will outline their digital for the short-, medium- and long-term.
The 18th National Managers’ Conference of RCBs, held at the Eusbett International Conference Centre in Sunyani, was on the theme ‘Sustaining Rural and Community Banking through Digitalisation’.