The newly licensed commercial bank, Capital Bank Limited, was last week upbeat about the prospects of making an impact on the local market as it stated that it would open its doors to customers in March.
“We are aiming to open in March, and our first branch will be in Gaborone,” Chief Executive Officer of Capital Bank, Jagdish Gokhala, said in an interview with The Sunday Standard.
Capital Bank was given a license at the close of last year after a prolonged time of mid night oil burning by some of its local partners, who include former Ombusdman, Lethebe Maine, and former Permanent Secretary in the Department of Works and Building, Mmapula Modise.
In a statement released by the Central Bank, Capital Bank has been given the licence with effect from December 27, 2007 and it is expected to be in operation within 12 months from the date of issuance of the licence.
The latest move will push up the number of commercial banks to sixÔÇömaking the capital city Gaborone the most heavily banked area in the country. Further, it comes at a time when there is fierce competition within the banking sector as there is a belief that there are few business prospects in the country.
At the moment, banks are at each others’ throats in terms of property lending, small and medium enterprise financing, but there is a serious gap in terms of service delivery and products roll-out.
“We will start with one branch in Gaborone with a long term view of increasing them to two by the end of the year. Right now, we have not yet decided where the second branch will be, but, definitely outside Gaborone,” Gokhala said.
The new bank will start with a staff compliment of between 25 and 30 people and it is likely to dramatically increase with a number of investments into some new branches.
“We are not afraid of competition in as far as services are concerned. We believe that there is still space for another player in the market,” he said, adding that “the aim is to also charge competitive interest rates.
The bank is also looking at investing in modern technology that will put it at the same level as some of the older and ‘brick and mortar’ banks.
Capital Bank, which is also backed by some monied people in Gaborone, is majority owned by First Merchant Bank of Malawi.