In a bid to back up government’s efforts in enhancing financial inclusion, the CRDB Bank has been investing heavily in expansion of its network to take services closer to customers.
Tanzania recently launched the national financial inclusion framework to focus on priorities like payment platforms, infrastructure and consumer protection, with an overall goal of giving 50 per cent of the country’s population access to formal financial services by 2016.
However, the Finscope Survey 2013 published last week shows that already over 50 per cent of adult population has access to financial services, where 13.9 per cent of the number comprises bank customers and 43.5 per cent use non-bank formal services that include mobile phone money facilities.
Over the last couple of years, CRDB Bank has upped its ante on driving financial inclusion in Tanzania and has embarked on an aggressive sensitisation campaign aided by innovative products that are continuously driving uptake of financial services across the country.
The Managing Director with the CRDB Bank, Dr Charles Kimei, said during the Capital Markets presentation to analysts and investors that the huge investments on the bank’s network reduced the rate of profit growth to only 4.8 per cent last year.
The bank’s investors who attended the three-day conference came from across the globe mainly South Africa, United States, UK, Kenya and locally.
The bank’s profit for the year 2013 increased to 84.4bn/- compared to 80.5bn/- registered in the previous year largely due to increment of expenses caused by continued investment.
For example, last year it established six branches, four service centres, installed 66 new ATMs as well as the alternative banking channels like Agent Banking and point of sales (PoSs). “The CRDB Agency Banking model enables us to deliver a range of crucial banking services to all our customers using appointed agents countrywide.
The agents are given Point of Sales (POS) terminals that enable them to render services available in the banking halls remotely,” he said. Since the launching of agent banking, the bank has currently over 500 agents across the country in what has effectively elevated the bank as the leading financial entity in Tanzania in terms of assets.
Also through the Visa and Master- Card Tembocards, CRDB bank now has over 5 million users who can access the over 30 million outlets globally using the two international platforms. Locally, CRDB Bank boasts of a large network of over 300 ATMs, 100 plus branches and close to a thousand PoSs terminals within Tanzania and Burundi.
The CRDB Bank Chairman of the Board, Mr Martin Mmari, said to continue with agent banking rollout, the bank’s partnership with the Tanzania Postal Corporation (TPC) will strengthen its role in driving financial inclusion in the country.
“The partnership gives the bank a network of 15 service centres already in operation by the corporation,” he noted. CRDB Bank’s strategic focus for the year 2014 is to continuously embark on building on the investments in delivery channels, systems and processes made in the past years to expand its network to reach the remote unbankable population.
Mr Mmari said efforts will be directed to drive sales and optimise value added services already developed in the market as well as consolidate products, systems and platforms introduced in the previous years to ensure quality services.
In his opening speech, the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr Adam Malima, apart from commending the CRDB’s successes, the bank’s partnership with mobile communication firms has increased financial accessibility of excluded population in the society.
He added: “The banking sector should continue doing research and development in mobile banking sector to ensure more Tanzanians access banking services.” If the study is done diligently, Mr Malima was of the opinion that the next two to three years would witness banks tripling the number of their clients by forging links with the mobile phone financial services.
The mobile banking has thus far pushed access to financial services to over 50 per cent. This figure surpasses the government’s target of enabling at least 50 per cent of the country’s adult population to have a cut in financial services as of 2016.
According to the Finscope Survey 2013, there are still 17 million adult Tanzanians who are excluded from banking services due to inability of commercial banks to reach them.
This is a challenge for the financial institutions to increase investments to ensure more people are bankable and benefit from banking services, thus supporting financial inclusion initiative, that among others, aim at lifting masses from abject poverty.
Originally published on Daily News Tanzania.