For everyone, 2020 was meant to be the year of growth and development with technology at the centre of this gradual growth until COVID-19 disrupted every aspect of everyone’s life.
In Ghana, there are several moves to keep businesses going with institutions fast-tracking the introduction of technological-based products and services. In the banking sector, banks that hitherto didn’t push their tech-based platforms aggressively are now speeding up the introduction of these products and services.
But CalBank, one of the nation’s leading financial services provider, did not wait for COVID-19 to introduce cutting edge products and services but since the first two cases, the uptake has been impressive. Since early 2020, it reintroduced its banking application with major upgrades to critical acclaim. Customers, who have downloaded and are using the application, are beyond elated.
So far the application has been downloaded almost 50,000 times and is growing so fast, it could become the bank’s biggest branch, without a physical address, even before the year ends.
In an interview with Philip Owiredu, the bank’s managing director, he stated that the upgrades that launched the reintroduction of the application has truly paid off with the huge downloads of the app and the level of active usage.
“If you take the various platforms like our Cal App which was launched just at the beginning of this year, just before the pandemic, you see a very significant uptake. We think this is a very fast rate of downloads. If you take our mobile banking platform for instance which had about a 160,000 users at the beginning of the year, we now have about 200,000,” he said.
He indicated that CalBank already has a digital agenda in place for the last half decade but from last year, the bank’s strategy was to reinforce that digital agenda and as such, has invested quite significantly in ensuring that the platforms are stable, having the right infrastructure in place which will support the various digital products that were available to clients before the pandemic set in.
“The pandemic has hastened this kind of trend or change we have seen in the country. Thus the move towards ensuring that we are able to serve our customers through digital means,” he said.
Still on the digital agenda of the bank and the process to ensure customers get convenient and satisfactory service amid social distancing he pointed out that the bank also has a platform that it use in the banking halls where the clients who walk into the banking hall does not engage staff very closely.
This platform he said has also seen a lot of transactions being done within the banking hall through that platform. “At the moment, we have between 70-80 percent of our clients who come into the banking hall going to use that platform,” he said.
Collaboration btween banks & fintechs
Speaking on the subject of collaboration between banks and fintechs, Mr. Owiredu, emphasised that there has to be very good collaboration between the banks and Fintechs to be able to serve the clientele as a whole.
“Most people do think that there has to be a fierce competition between banks and fintechs. Though the fintechs also come out with products which compete with products which the banks also come out with, at the end of the day, because of the financial ecosystem that we have, a fintech will require a bank to work with.
So, we collaborate with the fintechs, because they are very good at building platforms and some also provide some services. But the banks are there to provide these services to the clientele so if we have a collaboration between fintechs who are technically very good at building platforms and banks who are trusted partners because that is where the monies are kept and people tend to trust the banks more, then that collaboration will help to serve the customer better,” he reiterated.