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EBank under wraps

Ebank, Namibia’s seventh commercial bank is keeping details of its operations under a veil of secrecy even as the bank announced this week that it had been granted a six-month extension to its provisional banking licence. Chairperson Monica Kalondo released a statement on Tuesday saying the Bank of Namibia had on 31 January extended Ebank’s provisional banking licence after the expiry of the initial provisional licence which was granted on 01 August 2013. Kalondo said the six month extension, valid for the period 01 February to 01 August 2014, was issued following a mandatory pre-opening inspection by the central bank in January 2014. She said the results of the pre-opening inspection and the subsequent license extension were well received by the EBank board. “We are now attending to the last conditions of the provisional license and are satisfied that these conditions will soon be met,” Kalondo said.

But when contacted for comment on what the last conditions that still needed to be met are, the number of people employed by the bank as well as the nature of the bank’s operations, the venture capitalist said the bank was not at liberty to give further information about its operations. She said: “Please note that we have issued an official Media Announcement on the extension of our license by The Bank Of Namibia. We are at present not at liberty to divulge any more than this. We would however communicate further details once a full license is granted and we are able to share without restraint.” Little is known about the new bank except that it is set to offer low-cost transactional banking to address the lack of access to formalised banking and financial services. The Economist also understands 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. EBank is a joint venture between Pointbreak, a Namibian Investment and Wealth Management Company and TYME, a South African banking solutions provider. Recently the Bank of Namibia was forced to deny suggestions that former Assistant Governor Michael Mukete might have acted in conflict of interest when he presided over the awarding of a provisional banking licence to EBank. Mukete’s skedaddle and unceremonious exit from the apex bank last October to pursue a career at PointBreak raised suspicions in financial circles that he might have acted in conflict of interest when the decision to award a provisional licence to EBank was made since the banking supervision department, responsible for the screening and awarding of banking licences, fell directly under his control. \However, the central bank said it had a sworn statement from Mukete in which he stated that he was only approached by PointBreak Group Namibia after the provisional licence was granted.

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