KAMPALA — Centenary Bank has added a new service on its Agent Baking platform that enables both its customers and bank non-customers to withdraw money at no charge.
Financial institutions have in recent years embarked on the journey to financially include more Ugandans by continuously exploring new avenues through which to bring financial services closer to communities and offer better banking experiences to the growing number of customers.
There is no doubt the efforts have yielded some achievements, however, there need to do more.
The 2018 Finscope Uganda report shows that 11 per cent of Uganda’s adult population has access to formal financial services, which number has doubled since 2006, citing the use of mobile money dominating the industry; though it provides a limited range of financial services which are more inclined to payments and saving.
On the other hand, the banking sector continues playing an instrumental role in offering broader financial service options with a certain level of sustainability and security which may not be available in the informal sector.
According to Beatrice Lugalambi, Centenary Bank’s General Manager Corporate Communication and Marketing, the bank has proactively taken steps geared towards promoting access to financial services not only for its customers but Ugandans at large, which explains the introduction the CenteSwift service, an option that enables users to send and receive money through the bank’s CenteAgent banking platform.
She explained that, “The CenteSwift service allows individuals to send money across the country at a minimal cost, while the recipients on the other hand withdraws the money sent to them at no charge, regardless of whether one holds an account with the bank or not,” adding that, “All the transactions of sending and withdrawing can be initiated and completed at any of our over 4,000 CenteAgents country-wide, who were recruited to enable us reach the unbanked population.”
“Our Bank’s customer base has steadily grown over the years to the current 1.8 million accounts, and we believe that deploying technology-driven services that offer convenience and are also affordable is key in achieving our mission of financially including more people, especially those in the rural areas,” Lugalambi explained.
As at September last year, Uganda had 26 licensed commercial banks according to a Bank of Uganda report, which are meant to serve the 44 million Ugandans. However, the commercial banks serve only up to 11.3 million people while Credit Institutions and Microfinance Deposit Taking Institutions serve 608,000 and 1.2 million people respectively, an indication that there is still a significant need to bridge the financial inclusion and access to financial services gap, by offering diverse banking options that are digitally driven.
Over the years, different banks have embraced the digital era by rolling out digital banking solutions that do not necessitate their customers to walk to the banking halls to carryout transactions but rather access services using their phones and other gadgets. Some of these solutions include mobile banking, agent banking, online banking among others that are easy to use, convenient and relatively aff.