Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), this week launched yet another exciting product called SBC International Trade Account (ITC), which is a welcome addition to the wide range of products and services and proof of the bank’s determination to remain competitive, both locally and regionally. This new product is expected to help in easing the cost of doing business in Botswana at the macro level, thereby improving the investment climate.
Speaking at this event, held at Gaborone Sun, the General Manager, SME Banking, Ben Muchina, explained that the account is going to put its focus in the international trade segment mainly export and import. He said the objective behind this account is to improve SCB’s services by targeting specific industrial segments, in this case, importers and exporters.
“This account will also promote SCB’s international network and its experience and orientation as a trade account,” he added.
Muchina said the account holders will also benefit from periodic updates, which include the weekly and monthly email broadcasts with fixed trends and forecasts as well as special offers.
According to Muchina, products features consist of free telegraphic transfers across the SCB network, which is expected to reduce the cost of sending payment and receiving payment to or from suppliers.
“Flat commission on TTs from SCB to other banks will also be offered and will make planning easier for the customers. The account also offers the preferential forex rates as well as the maximum caps on pricing to promote customer growth,” he stated.
According to Muchina, this account is going to allow its holders discounted and flat rate pricing on all trade products as well as discounted fixed rate. “This is a very convenient account as it has Straight2Bank facility, which means it will offer customers online transaction enquiry and initiation thus provide a convenient rout for account management,” he stated. Additionally, he revealed that Straight2Bank facility facilitates real time working capital management and enable telegraphic transfers to be done from the comfort of customers’ offices. He said it also facilitates the printing of statements in Excel and PDF Format for end-to-end reconciliation.
The Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Duke Lefhoko, stressed that this was indeed a potential development and evidence that customer needs come first at SCB.
“I’ve came to realise that to the management of the SCB, competitiveness is not just a nice clich├® but a real life situation. In their own businesses, they are confronted with the imperative of competitiveness on a daily basis: to compete or go under,” he said.
Lefhoko stated that as the Ministry of Trade and Industry and indeed government, they are committed to creating a competitive business climate. He said that competition leads to innovation, efficient allocation of scarce resources, job opportunities and low prices for consumers.
SCB, he said, is therefore setting up a good case study of the efficacy of the Government’s policy approach regarding competition. Driven by the need to remain competitive, he said this bank was offering its clients the ITC.
“Whereas previously small and medium scale clients incurred high transaction costs when paying offshore suppliers and other creditors, they will no longer have to pay Telephonic Transfer if they route payments through SCB’s worldwide branch network,” he stated.
According to Lefhoko, both the Government and businesses are happy that Botswana has been able to achieve high rankings in the global surveys on the ease of doing business. Citing an example, he said the annual, prestigious Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom has successively placed Botswana among Africa’s top performers.
“Similarly, The World Economic Freedom has awarded us top ranking alongside Mauritius, Tunisia and South Africa. We are not just content with being among the top performers.”
The account will be made available to Small Businesses and Medium Enterprises where main sales turnover is derived from importing or exporting goods. The industry should have a turnover of P500 000 and above per annum and it should maintain a minimum credit balance of P5000 all the time.