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Banking innovation underpins affordability

Sarel van Zyl, Chief executive of First National Bank Namibia explains how innovation is a key driver of lower banking costs.

FNB Namibia is testing a form of Cash Deposit Taking ATM’s which are able to take in real-time cash deposits and then recycling that same cash for dispensing when a another customer wants to withdraw.

“ATM cash deposits will be cleared and made available on the customer’s account immediately and not only after 24 hours as before” said Sarel van Zyl, CEO of FNB Namibia, explaining his bank’s drive to stay on the cusp of new technology.
The advantages to customers are less time spent in queues to deposit cash as well as improved cash withdrawal facilities availability and up time. “These machines are currently being tested in the ATM Lobby of the FNB Windhoek branch and the plan is to introduce 30 more across the country during the next year” he said adding that this latest innovation is but one in a long line of innovations to offer customers more convenience, transact ability and the option of more cost effective banking.
Cash-based transactions remain expensive for the bank to offer and as such, FNB had no option but to increase fees on these transactions as part of its 2015/16 pricing review. “With this in mind and in keeping with our strategy of migrating customers to transact on electronic and digital self-service channels, FNB remains pro-active in encouraging customers to look for alternatives to cash-based banking, such as using their card to pay for goods and services where possible and to use channels such as FNB Online Banking, Cellphone Banking and the FNB Banking App. These alternatives offer more affordable banking with added convenience” said Van Zyl.
“We do, however, realize that customers still need to pay for certain things in cash, and to do so as affordably as possible we encourage customers to make use of FNB ATMs when withdrawing cash, as the use of another bank’s ATM for these transactions are charged at a premium.”
He said FNB’s increase of bank fees has been minimized on the lower and middle income customers, and the bank would continue to offer their Electronic Pricing Option (EPO) to those customers who transact using mostly electronic mediums and the “Pay-As-You-Use” pricing option to those Lifestyle account customers who prefer to pay per transaction as the pricing options allow customers to choose an option that best suits their transactional requirements.
In line with FNB’s support of the Bank of Namibia’s drive towards wider financial inclusion, the CardWise Zero Account will remain the cheapest transactional account, with zero monthly account fees. It is available to all individuals earning up to N$24,000 per year. CardWise Zero is designed for customers looking for a day-to-day bank account that is both easy to use and easy on the pocket. A free savings pocket, called Bank-Your-Change is also available and offers competitive interest rates dependent on the balance in the account.

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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

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20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.