Leverage technology to meet changing needs of customers – Second Deputy Governor, BoG

The Savings and Loans (S&L) sector should take steps to leverage emerging technologies to modernise their business models to meet the fast-changing needs of their customers, Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Mrs Elsie Addo Awadzi, has said.

That, she said, was important to help the sector to remain relevant to the segment of the economy it served.

Speaking at the 12th annual general meeting of GHASALC Mrs Awadzi said financial institutions that had not already designed, adopted, and implemented a digital transformation strategy were already behind the curve. 

“The S&L sector risks becoming a dinosaur as more banks reach the informal sector and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector with their innovative digital financial services,” Mrs Awadzi said.

The AGM to present the 2021 Annual Report of the Association was on the theme “Driving Financial Inclusion through Digitalisation: Role of Savings and Loans Companies.”

As part of the meeting new board members were elected to oversee the association from 2022-2024.

They are Mr Kwame Owusu-Boateng (CEO, Opportunity International S&L), who chairs the board,Olivier Bailly-Bechet (Managing Director , Advans Ghana S&L), Vice Chairman.

The other members are Mrs Lydia Daddy (MD, Services Integrity S&L), Mr Arnold Parker (CEO, Letshego Ghana S&L), Mr Yusif  Abubakari (MD, Jins S&L), Mr Mohammed Aourongjeb (CEO,  ASA S&L)

She said all around the world, technology was fast disrupting traditional business models for delivering finance.

 “Undoubtedly, the S&L industry is at a critical juncture and some strategic rethinking is required by key stakeholders to reposition the industry to unleash its full potential to serve low-medium income households and the micro, small, and medium-sized business sector which is the main driver of socio-economic growth for our economy,” she said.

Mrs Awadzi called on the S&L to put strong governance and risk management systems in place to help mitigate these risks as financial institutions exploit the benefits of digitalisation.

To this end, she urged S&L companies to augment their capital base in order to digitise and deploy more sophisticated systems to help mitigate attendant cyber risks.

Mrs Awadzi commended the S&L sector for the role it was playing in the development of the country.

“The role of the S&L industry in our economy has been significant, providing critical financial services to the Micro, Small and Medium-Enterprises,  the informal sector, and households,” the Second Deputy Governor stressed

She said at the end of the first quarter of 2022, total assets of the specialised deposit-taking institutions’ sector exceeded GHc16.0 billion, of which the Savings and Loans sub-sector contributed 35.1 per cent. 

Mrs Awadzi said S&L companies disbursed a total of GHc3.4 billion in net loans to private enterprises and businesses in the first quarter of 2022 alone.

The Chairman of GHASALC, Mr Kwame Owusu-Boateng, in his remarks stated that the association continued to play its intermediary role to ensure that the sector as a whole remained vibrant and discharges its mandate with excellence.

He urged members of GHASALC to develop alternative channels to enable their clients access their services.

“Through innovation, we stand a better chance of retaining and improving our client base by giving them ability to do more with little effort and less cost,” Mr Owusu-Boatengsaid. 

The Executive Secretary of GHASALC, Mr Tweneboah Kodua Boakye, in a report stated that the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic compelled the members of S&L to be innovative and invest in digital platforms to retain and increase their customer base.

“This drive led to an appreciable increase in clients (i.e 21.67 per cent increase) from about six million in December 2019 to 7.3 million as of December 2021.  The sector as of December 2021 also recorded a sizeable increment in total assets, deposits and loans at 25.48 per cent, 33.44 per cent and 64.08 per cent respectively as compared to pre-COVID-19 (December 2019) and pre-sector clean-up exercise,” he said.

Mr Boakye said the association was collaborating with some Fintech companies to develop digital solutions to enhance the operations of S&L companies.

BY KINGSLEY ASARE

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