The pan African bank, BancABC, which is moving into the local retail space, is looking at partnerships as a form of strategy in the market that is small but with large segments of the population already covered by other banking players.
Douglas Munatsi, the group’s Chief Executive Officer, revealed this week that they are in talks with a number of possible partners although he declined to identify who they are talking to.
“We are still in discussions with possible partners and issue of propriety.”
“Botswana, unlike other countries, has no mass numbers,” said Munatsi.
“So we want to work in partnerships and strategy,” said Munatsi, admitting that the bank is coming to the retail space a little bit late.
For a long time, ABC, which is now re-branding into brand BancABC, concentrated on merchant banking.
Although Botswana has a small population on the BancABC footprint, the market is banked and older banks have had sizeable market share.
“Botswana has high banking penetration and the number of the banked is high. We think we will have the right partners.”
Munatsi said the bank has put a lot of resources in preparations for the retail offering revealing that initially, they underestimated the IT and human capital resources.
BancABC Botswana plans to open a branch in the Central Business District (CBD) in a couple of days with two more expected in Gaborone with one at the bank’s headquarters at Fairgrounds Finance Park.
Another one will follow in Francistown at the buildings where First National Bank of Botswana (FNBB) used to be located.
“Our focus will be those three; brick and mortar,” he said. The bank has already been given the license.
Munatsi expects the bank’s retail division to be profitable in between 18-24 months in a broader perspective.
The retail banking division of the group made progress in 2009 with significant investments made in people, systems and capital.
First branches opened in Harare late last year and subsequently in Dar es Salaam in March 2010.
New branches are expected to be opened in Maputo and Gaborone soon.
“We have now obtained Visa accreditation in Botswana. Our hope is that Botswana will be able to sponsor other operations”, said Munatsi.
Other accreditations have been obtained in Mozambique and Tanzania.
“The IT services are now in place. We underestimated the resources and human capital needs and that led to delays. But it is better to do it right rather than rush.”
Since amalgamating the bank’s operations in Zambia with the micro finance division to the bank, the intention is to extend the retail services to the clients of the micro finance division although the two will run separately.