The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rate of adoption of digital banking channels and hastened the transition from brick-and-mortar banking to self-service platforms, the Ghana Bankers Association (GAB) has said.
John Awuah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of GAB, speaking as a guest on Business24’s Ghana Banking Sector Report (GBSR) webinar on digital baking, said: “We will be seeing the beginning of the end of the palace-style bank branches in the glamour we currently have them, as most banking services, in our estimation, will transition onto self-service platforms in the near-term.
This is certain to happen because the overwhelming convenience that is afforded by the alternate channels for delivering banking services far outweighs the trappings of flashy banking premises.”
A central bank-initiated clean-up has seen the total number of banks reduced from 30 in 2018 to 23 presently. This has also led to a shrinking of the number of physical bank branches.
A recent study by Deloitte on the potential implications of COVID-19 on banking and capital markets revealed that the number of physical bank branches in Ghana has reduced from 1,342 in 2016, when there were 33 banks in operation, to 1,145 branches as at end-2019.
This, Mr. Awuah believes, is a foretaste of what is to come—where technology will not just be an enabler but will become the business of banking.
“What was missing that COVID-19 has helped propel forward is the acceptance and adoption of digital banking channels. For instance, customers who once resisted digital banking are fast realising that they are treading on lonely grounds in this period.
Our projections from the association’s perspective is that, as they experience more and more of the digital channels made available by banks, the less likely it is that they will want to go back to visiting brick-and-mortar bank facilities in the future.”
Major banking areas to be affected
Mr. Awuah noted that likely areas of banking operations to be affected include: customer on-boarding activities, product and service origination, bank performance assessment, and work environment design.
Other critical areas are staffing requirement in banks and the fluid opportunity for customers to compare and contrast banking services.
Business24 GBSR-Digital Banking webinar
The first in the series of planned webinars was organised by Business24 e-Newspaper and powered by Business24 Events. It brought together key actors in the digital banking space to review the landscape of banking/financial services digitisation in Ghana, highlight innovations and their benefits to customers, discuss customer service expectations in a digital banking age, how policies and regulations are encouraging and responding to digitisation trends, the likely future path of digitisation, and the link between digitisation and government’s financial inclusion agenda.
In addition to Mr. Awuah, other speakers and panelists on the webinar were Mr. Kwaku Tettey, Head of Project Management Office, Ghana Interbank Payment & Settlement Systems (GhIPSS); Mr. Sampson Akligoh, Director, Financial Sector Division, Ministry of Finance; Mr. Myles Hagan, Head of Channels, UMB; and J.N. Halm, Service Consultant.