Barclays Bank of Botswana, the biggest bank in the country, shrugged off concern that its new risk assessment measures would make banking with them difficult saying the bank will dedicate its full year in deepening the relations with its clients and at the same time improving technology.
The move to tighten on the bank’s risk assessment follows the implosion of Lobtrans at the end of last year which left the bank with a write-down of P 73 million pushing the total bad debt provision to P92 million.
Thuli Johnson, Managing Director of Barclays, said that they will be deepening their relations with corporate clients so that they can better understand them.
“We encountered an event towards the end of last year,” he said, referring to the Lobtrans saga.
Lobtrans left a number of big banks, namely, Barclays, Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana and African Banking Corporation with a huge exposure which forced them to make some write-downs on its loans. In total, at the time of its implosion it owned the bank close to P 3 00 million.
Further, Barclays said part of its programme this year is to improve on its technology with the aim of installing a new platform that will reposition it in the market against its peers.
The new platform, which will give it a superior bandwidth, is expected to enhance the service deliveryÔÇöincluding cutting the loan application turn around period from 48 hours to 30 minutes. The new system will also provide varied services, such as internet banking and cell-phone banking, which are believed, will be introduced by early next year.
“We are going to introduce a new IT platform which will help us do business much better,” Johnson said at a media briefing on the full year financial result on Monday at Gaborone Sun.
Despite the write-down caused by Lobtrans, the bank showed good growth in all segments and better outlook given its recent expansion exercise. The bank has doubled its number of ATMs to over 100 and increased its branches and service centers by opening 14 new ones.
The move set it as the most accessible commercial bank in the countryÔÇöeven in the rural areas ÔÇô as it rolls-out its financial inclusive campaign.
It is also planning to bring down its costs to income ratio by engaging with its suppliers during the course of this year.
Loan growth grew by 30 percent to P 879 million which was mainly geared towards consumer banking while assets shot-up to P 10.7 billion.