New “innovative” bank licenced
The Bank of Namibia has granted a provisional licence to a new commercial bank, eBank which is set to offer low-cost transactional banking to address the lack of access to formalised banking and financial services.
The provisional license is valid for six months as from 01 August 2013, during which period eBank will set up its banking operations.
Although no details were made available regarding the distribution network of the new bank, it is understood that the bank, which has promised a new generation banking model, will offer transactions on an agency basis, primarily through transactions at retail outlets and service stations.
According to Monica Kalondo, Chairperson of eBank, the banking model will facilitate economic inclusion for the broader Namibian public: “With economic inclusion we do not simply mean the enablement of transactional banking, but the full inclusion of citizens in all the elements of economic activity. This specifically includes access to transactional banking, access to savings mechanisms, access to insurance, access to loans and access to consumer education,” she said.
eBank is owned by Pointbreak, a Namibian Investment and Wealth Management Company, in association with TYME, a South African banking solutions provider.
Despite having four commercial banks already and other small players serving a population of just over two million people, Kalondo said it is their belief that the Namibian market is under-banked and does not enjoy financial inclusion to the extent that it should.
Ndangi Katoma, the Director: Department of Strategic Communications and Financial Sector Developmen at Bank of Namibia agreed with Kalondo. He said:“Recent research has revealed that a significant proportion of Namibia’s population, especially low-income individuals and small businesses, still has no access to affordable banking and financial services. This calls for the introduction of low-cost banking solutions with the ability to reach the unbanked segment of the population.
“New entrants will also bring more competition into the mainstream banking space, which has potential benefits of reducing overall costs of banking and financial services. Other countries with population sizes lower than that of Namibia, such as Seychelles and Mauritius can be cited as examples, where there are more banking institutions than in Namibia. This means that if new banks find a different way of doing business, they will be able to penetrate the market.”