Mr Kojo Mattah, Managing Director of the Apex Bank of the Association of Rural Banks (ARB) has said despite the growth of rural banking through a rigorous sector clean-up, and an unexpected pandemic, business in the sector still picked up.
He said management and boards of rural and community banks (RCBs) had been consistent in pursuing service innovation and digital technology, resulting in the growth of deposits from 3.88 billion at close of 2019 from the 2.85 billion cedis in 2017.
“In spite of the impact of COVID-19, we have seen some modest level of growth from GHS 4.03 billion at the end of March 2020 to 4.23 billion at the end of June 2020,” Mr Mattah added.
The Director was speaking at the opening of the 19th Annual Managers’ conference of the Apex Bank in Ho, which was on the theme “The Speed of Change.”
“He said the Bank would sustain the current “momentum for results-oriented change” that was driving progress of RCBs.
“We can say without hesitation that our quest to harness the power of innovation and digitisation for sustainable growth has yielded some tangible results. Today we can boast of a modern ICT backbone, which is helping us to develop innovative customer-centric products for the RCB customers,” the Director said.
Mr Mattah noted that innovation remained a key growth pillar and had driven the enhancement of the ICT operating platform for RCGs, resulting in the development of “relevant, competitive products and enhanced services.”
He said delivering on its promise to unveil a formidable Agency Banking service, a mobile banking service- a major component of the initiate, had been operationalised.
“We are almost through with full integration with the largest mobile network operator, MTN. However, all RCB customers with Vodafone and Airtel-Tigo numbers can sign up for mobile banking.
“With that, they can do a plethora of services,” he said, adding that a data centre upgrade scheduled for completion in November 2020 will enhance communication, and also facilitate the smooth operation of the online and mobile banking services.
Mr Mattah mentioned that four major cyber and information security and requirements under the Ghana Financial Sector Development Project had been given the green light, and that upon completion, would provide world-class data and network security for RCBs.
He said the Bank in February 2020, was awarded ISO 27001:2013, making it a pacesetter in banking certification in Ghana, and also, envy within the space of financial and data security.
“The certification is a validation of our capacity to provide exceptional experience to our customers. It is a stamp of confidence in our people, systems and processes and a loud announcement to our partners and customers that the Bank and our member RCBs have come a long way and are poised to deliver superior service to customers,” Mr Mattah stated.
He stated partnership with the Ghana Inter-bank Payment and Settlement Systems, which he said had yielded good results, including RCB customers’ access to services of GOIL and KFC branches nationwide.
The Director asked stakeholders to consider the unexpected wind of change that swept through the globe, and unite on riding the storm into a prosperous future.
“We need to pause counting our loses and rather plan for the future. As an industry, we need to plan quickly how to take advantage firstly of, the opportunistic business avenues that the advent of the COVID-19 has brought us.
“Secondly we need to strategise on how to harness the permanent business avenues the virus has unleashed on the world,” he said.
Mr Yaw Sarpong, Head of the Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department (OFISD) of the Bank of Ghana, said the sector cleanup restored confidence in banking, and asked stakeholders to consider the coronavirus pandemic as “wakeup call to revive our ways of doing things.”
He added that the Bank of Ghana remained committed to providing the appropriate regulatory support.
Togbe Kotoku XI, Paramount Chief of Kpenoe Traditioanl Area and a guest of honour at the event, said the banking crisis, and the subsequent sector clean-up did wreck some havoc on lives particularly in rural communities, and asked RCBs to reinvigorate faith in banking.
The three-day conference would offer managers and executive officers the opportunity to collectively access and enhance its efforts to remain indispensable in the financial sector.