Coronavirus : Banks direct customers to digital platforms

  • BoG cautions against panic-withdrawals
  • BoG pushes banks to stock ATMs
  • CalBank closes down Legon branch

Even before President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo issued a directive on Sunday, March 15, 2020, to suspend all public gatherings for at least four weeks, banks have taken the lead by urging and nudging their customers to leverage their digital channels to continue enjoying banking services.

Several banks in the country – via text messages, emails and videos, are urging their customers to stay away from crowded areas, including the banks’ branches, and instead take advantage of ATMs, leverage mobile and Internet banking and other digital platforms to pay for goods, purchases and services received.

A message from Stanbic Bank on Saturday, March 14 said: “Dear valued customer, in view of the COVID-19 outbreak, please avoid crowded areas, handle less cash and frequently, wash your hands with soap and running water. Use your cards and our digital channels 24/7”.

Even with its ATMs temporarily shut down, UBA Ghana messaged customers on Sunday, March 15 to leverage the bank’s other e-channels. “Dear customer, kindly note that our ATMs have been shut down temporarily. Please use our other e-channels for your transactions. We apologise for any inconveniences caused.”

BoG cautions against panic-withdrawals and pushes banks to stock ATMs

Yesterday, the central bank issued a statement that called on the general public to desist from panic-withdrawals from the banks, savings and loans, finance houses, microfinance companies, and rural and community banks.

The regulator also urged banks to keep their ATMs well-stocked with cash to serve the needs of customers adequately.

“The general public is strongly advised to refrain from panic-withdrawals. Banks and Specialised Deposit-taking Institutions will remain open to offer services to customers,” a statement from the Bank of Ghana said – adding that all banks must “ensure all electronic channels are fully functional at all times and ATMs do not run out of cash”.

The Bank of Ghana also assured all stakeholders that it remains committed to its mandate, and will take the necessary measures and interventions to mitigate the economic impact of the current situation to ensure financial and economic stability.

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CalBank shuts down Legon branch

In a swift response to a confirmed case on the University of Ghana campus, CalBank has temporarily shut down its Legon branch. A statement from the bank said: “Dear client, as part of safety measures within Legon Campus and its environs concerning COVID-19, kindly be informed that banking at the CalBank Legon branch has been temporarily closed until further notice”.

The bank went further by urging customers to take advantage of its other branches, agent banking points or use its e-banking solutions (CalBank App, Mobile Banking (*771#), Internet banking, and ATMs). “Any inconvenience caused by this temporary closure is deeply regretted.”

More on Ghana’s situation – President’s address

President Akufo-Addo, on Sunday, March 15, placed a four-week ban on public gatherings. In an address to the nation the President said: “All public gatherings, including conferences, workshops, funerals and religious events such as church and mosque attendance, have been suspended for the next four weeks”.

He also charged commercial vehicle operators including trotro, taxi and bus drivers to provide hand-sanitisers to passengers boarding such vehicles to curb the transfer and spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).

He tasked the Ministry of Transport to work with private and commercial transport unions to make it possible. “The Ministry of Transport should work with the transport unions and private and public transport operators to ensure enhanced hygienic conditions in all vehicles and terminals, by providing among others hand-sanitizers, running water and soap for washing hands,” the president said.

The President further urged other ministries to take precautionary measures in their day-to-day activities. “Ministry of local government must ensure a high level of sanitation at the market place. The ministry of local government should collaborate with MMDCs to improve hygienic conditions in the markets,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo also has directed the Attorney General to submit immediately to Parliament an emergency legislation in accordance with Article 21 (4) (c) and (d) of the Constitution of the Republic, to embody the new measures constituted to fight the spread of coronavirus.

“I have directed the Attorney General to submit immediately to Parliament emergency legislation in accordance with Article 21 (4) (c) and (d) of the Constitution of the Republic to embody these measures; and I have further directed the Minister for Health to exercise his powers, under section 169 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851) by the immediate issuance of an Executive Instrument to govern the relevant measures,” the president said.

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Corporate Ghana impact

Earlier in the day on Sunday, AngloGold Ashanti Ghana – one of the biggest mining companies operating in the country-  confirmed that an employee at its Obuasi Gold Mine in Ghana has tested positive with the COVID-19 virus. The employee, the mining giant said in a statement, is a Ghanaian who lives in the mine’s accommodation and who recently returned from travel abroad.

“All necessary protocols were immediately activated as soon as the employee presented himself to medical staff with flu-like symptoms. The employee is in self-isolation in his home under close monitoring by health professionals,” the company said.

AngloGold Ashanti assured that it is working closely with members of the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service to trace all people with whom the employee may have been in contact. Those who have been in contact with the employee will undergo self-isolation and be closely monitored by healthcare professionals as per the national protocol, it added in the statement.

“The Obuasi Mine site’s response plans have now been activated. Non-essential staff will work remotely until further notice. Production from the mine will continue alongside construction work related to the Obuasi Redevelopment Project,” the statement added.

It went further to say that AngloGold Ashanti Ghana remains in a state of high-alert and preparedness to deal with the global challenge presented by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The company has also stepped-up screening and surveillance of employees, banned non-essential travel, instituted a mandatory two-week self-quarantine for any arriving travellers, and increased hygiene awareness and facilities across its operations – in addition to a range of other measures taken to mitigate risks presented by the virus.

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