Saturday, June 6, 2020

Was Letshego ever ready for a banking license?

By Cedric Swanka

In a surprising twist of events the financial inclusion micro-lender, also a home grown entity, Letshego Group called off its application for banking license with Bank of Botswana (BoB)recently.

Letshego, which for years has been looking forward to get the license and was once rejected by BoB, last year tried its luck once again only to drop the ball at the eleventh last hour.

Could it be that Letshego submitted its application without having done its homework thoroughly? That remains the question.

In an attempt to engage Letshego on the subject, Letshego Holdings, Head of Corporate Affairs, Lauren Callie declined to fully respond to the enquiries, except to refer this publication to the old press release which only addresses the reasons for their withdrawal.

In a further attempt, she said the company shall host a media briefing sometime in March this year.

The details of the press release are that, Letshego Group has chosen to put its application on hold to enable the financial inclusion entity to focus on the ongoing consolidation of recent acquisitions, and drive in the launch of new solutions across its 11-market footprint.         

The deposit taking license has always been in the minds of the leadership in Botswana and there have been constant discussions with the regulator on the options available.

The fact that the group has already acquired skills in this local market, Letshego has always been confident it will eventually get a deposit taking license.

Commenting on the decision, Smit Crouse, Letshego’s Group CEO, said: “Botswana, our home, remains core to the Group, and a Banking Licence in this market remains a valued opportunity to support local growth and expansion.

However, an application of this significance needs to be done at the right time within our journey, given the current focus and resources needed to effectively conclude the consolidation of recent acquisitions and new solutions ÔÇô both regionally and in Botswana.”

Letshego Group’s current priorities include the Group’s acquisition of afb Ghana last year, the launch and strategic refinement of ‘LetsGo’ (Letshego’s all-in-one solution), the Group’s card offering in targeted markets, as well as the end-to-end automation of Letshego’s customer application process.

Bank of Botswana Communications Manager Selabe Mareledi did not also reveal much except to indicate that, the deposit taking license has always been in the minds of the leadership in Botswana and there have been constant discussions with the regulator on the options available.

The fact that the group has already acquired skills in this local market, Letshego has always been confident it will eventually get a deposit taking license.

She said, “the expectation is that a compliant, viable and well-run institution, will, in this regard, make a positive impact on financial sector development and enhance the provision of financial services.”

Since 2011, Bank of Botswana has to date rejected five banking licence applications for various reasons.

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