Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Bank mulls extending banking hours to select branches

Following on the popularity of opening Game City branch outside normal banking hours (0830-1530 hrs); Standard Chartered Bank Botswana is mulling extending the model to other selected branches.

However, the bank said copying the idea to other locations will be done taking cost and security into consideration.

Standard Chartered’s Acting CEO, Michael Wiegand, admitted extending hours is ‘quite expensive’.

“We will roll it out to where it makes sense,” Wiegand told Sunday Standard.

The bank extended the working hours after it realised that the existing banking hours were inconvenient for some customers who cannot make it during normal working hours.

However, labour issues arose as Botswana Bank Employees Union (BOBEU) felt the move by the bank was disregarding the Commissioner of Labour’s advice by implementing the extended working hours without the union’s consent.

The issue of extended working hours was first initiated by the bank in 2008, upon consulting the union, but a conflict of terms arose.

Under the system, from Monday to Friday, the bank opens at 8:30 in the morning and closes at seven in the evening; from 8:30 in the morning to four in the afternoon on Saturdays; and from nine in the morning to one in the afternoon on Sundays.

“We want to expand the model to other branches, but it is quite expensive,” Wiegand said.

The acting CEO admitted there is an issue of security also as the bank thinks of extending the model to other locations.

The model is targeted at malls and their opening hours to avoid isolation by criminals who might be tempted to make hits.

Game City is normally active from 0800 hrs until evening because it has cinemas, restaurants and drinking spots.

“It will be a different concern in the remote branches,” added the CEO.

The bank, which has 18 locations, is completing its two year project to upgrade branch network.

Its branches in Mochudi and Molepolole are being reconfigured, but will not be moved. However, in Letlhakane, the bank moved to a new location.

Wiegand said three new branches are planned for Gaborone and Francistown.
Also the bank has in the recent past invested on Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) networks to improve service delivery.

Customers have in the past raised uptime concerns, but Wiegand is confident uptime has grown to 97 percent, which has brought confidence to the bank.

In 2007, Standard Chartered replaced all its ATMs, which has helped the bank as it was losing customers to competition.

Wiegand said they focused their innovation this year on the salaried clientele and the next bunch will be affluent customers. Standard Chartered launched Priority Banking in the last quarter of last year.

Innovation will now be tailored for the affluent segment.

The bank introduced salary advance scheme to its current account holders in a bid to help customers in emergencies. Concerns were raised that the bank was now becoming a micro lender, but it argued the service was done free of charge.

“It is (salary advance) doing very well. The measure is not how much people use it; it is there to be used for emergencies”.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper