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BSB strives to bank the unbanked

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  • Bank launches ATM and debit card
  • Bank alive to increasing competition in the banking sector

OAITSE MATHALA

The Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) last week launched its first ever ATM and debit card, in its effort to modernize saving for customers in the low income bracket, as well as driving the financial inclusion agenda and “bank the unbanked”.
BSB has three branches, one being its headquarters situated adjacent the BBS Mall, one at Rail Park Mall in Gaborone and the other in Francistown. BSB customers will now be able to open various accounts at the bank, deposit, save and withdraw their money through ATMs. The debit card are also VISA enabled, which means customers banking with BSB will now be able to withdraw their money from anywhere in the world.
The bank became a sister-company to BotswanaPost and Botswana Couriers following a merger in 2009 that formed a holding company, Botswana Post Savings Group Limited. This allows BSB to have direct access to the postal network which gives it the opportunity to build the widest banking network in the country.
Speaking at the launch, BSB Board Chair, Juliana White said, “Customers used the passbook as a means to access and or deposit funds into their accounts. This model, though it is now deemed ancient, has served the bank so well especially in mobilizing savings. Most customers found it to be the best way to encourage them to save as accessibility to funds was restricted and it also required them to physically go to the bank or post office.”
She said the BSB has transformed to expand its product range and make their service faster, easily accessible and affordable. They now offer products ranging from corporate deposits, individual deposits, and loans that include unsecured personal loans which are offered even to non-customers. “This is a clear demonstration that BSB has become more flexible and accessible to customers of all types. For a long time, we only offered small personal loans against a position of their savings balance,” she said.
Minister of Transport and Communications Tshenolo Mabeo said the bank was pursuing a financial inclusion agenda, explaining that “70% of BSB market is in rural areas. It is therefore, expedient for the bank to react to special needs of these customers who are largely within the low income bracket. The launch of ATMs by BSB is just one amongst the many initiatives that the bank will be rolling out to drive the financial inclusion agenda.”
He noted that the latest statistics show that the number of unbanked adults in the country stands at 55%, a situation government would like to see reduce drastically. “I am convinced, it is also in your interest as bankers to serve the unbanked population,” he said.
Mabeo highlighted that BSB is alive to increased competition within the financial sector “by players within the sector and even outside, the technological disruption caused by mobile network operators through mobile banking has challenged banks worldwide to embrace mobile banking least they are extinguished or beaten at their game.” Plans to open more branches in Mahalapye and Serowe, according to the minister, are at an advanced stage, with more villages to be covered as the Bank rolls its rural coverage.

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