Agribank on US$2.5 m roll-out plan

Bulawayo – One of Zimbabwe’s leading banks, Agribank, has unveiled a US$2.5 million information communication and technology (ICT) roll out plan, which will see it attracting a wider clientele and competing with the best.
Addressing the Press at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, Strategy, Marketing and Business Development Divisional director, Joseph Mverecha, said the indigenous bank is striving to recapture the market share it lost when the United States and its allies slapped the institution with illegal sanctions.
For the past 10 years, Agribank has been finding it difficult to do business with the outside world, as the bank had to process offshore transactions via third parties, a system it described as costly.
“We are moving into introducing a wide range of products for our customers.
“We have invested at least US$2.5 million for the upgrading of ICT, which will see us enhancing our e-cash project.
“We are actually moving with speed so that our customers benefit from these new products that also include mobile banking,” said Mverecha. He said the new products will enable the institution attract more clients given that technology improves efficiency in the way business is done.
“It is a fact that during our embargoes, we were unable to do a number of things for our customers.
“Now that we are free to trade with international partners and attract foreign investment, we would be able to retain lost market share,” he said.
Mverecha said the bank is working on doubling its efforts on supporting local farmers saying it is the bank’s mandate to provide agricultural assistance in the country.
“Over and above the revamping of our ICT, we are going to double our efforts in supporting our farmers through financial loans and inputs. In actual fact, from the total loans that we offer about 35 percent is reserved for farming.
“That means our indigenous farmers get a good fraction per capita. We also want to be grateful to the government, which is providing us with maximum support in making the bank a financial institution of choice. We are wholly government-owned,” he said.
However, he said the bank was finding it difficult to extend long-term capital loans to farmers because of the nature of deposits.
He said 87 percent of deposits received by the banking sector are short-term.
“Of the US$4.4 billion worth of deposits in our banking system, about US$3.8b will be short-term money that is banked and withdrawn within the shortest period of time.
“It is just transitional in nature and it is deposited while one is waiting to withdraw it. This situation makes it hard to extend long-term loans,” he said

May 2013
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