Mr Bolaji Ayodele: Managing Director, GTBank Gambia

Monday, November 06, 2017

Mr Ayodele was deployed to GTBank Gambia as General Manager in 2005. He was appointed Managing Director and CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank (Gambia Ltd.) in July 2014. Prior to his appointment, he has served as deputy under two other Managing Directors.  Mr Ayodele holds a BSc in Biochemistry, a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and a MBA in 2002. 

In this interview with journalist Sanna Camara, they spoke on the situation of their bank after the change in government in December last year, general state of banking in The Gambia and the deployment of their newest innovation, the GTB mobile App.

GTBank is one of the 3 leading banks in The Gambia in terms of profitability and balance sheet size for many years now, how did you manage such success in 15 years?

Indeed, we thank God for His mercies and blessings and for our modest achievement since our establishment in The Gambia in March 2002. Our coming to The Gambia encouraged a competition for service excellence in the banking industry and again thanks to God, we have managed to maintain our dominance in innovative service delivery hinged on our robust electronic platform.

Our growing customer base and the way and manner in which the general public and partners embraced the bank over the period is clearly an endorsement of our customer driven way of banking.  I must therefore thank our customers, partners and the general public for challenging our thought processes and for making us their bank of choice.

So how do you manage to hold on to your clientele despite the stiff competitiveness in the industry?

Customers are the reason we are in business, so we strive to build our products around their needs.  We make sure that our products and services meet every customer’s need.  We deliver on record time with remarkable efficiency and maintain confidentiality of our relationships.

We are fortunate to have innovative and highly professional staff who believe in the bank and its principles of simplicity, professionalism, quality service, friendliness, excellence, trustworthiness, social responsibility and innovation.  

What do you make of the current banking environment in The Gambia?

Let me once again thank every Gambian for their collective and individual roles in ensuring a peaceful change from one government to another.  The Gambia is still an attractive environment to do business especially in the area of banking.  The liberal nature of the economy gives it an added advantage as a financial hub in the sub region.  Notwithstanding the size of the economy coupled with the keen competition, the banking industry is largely liquid which reflects a safe and sound financial system.

The public might not share your confidence after all the financial revelations ongoing at the Commission of Inquiry? Has the Central Bank got things under control?

The system is well regulated and the capacity to do business by each bank is improving by the day. The new administrators at the Central Bank of The Gambia are determined to ensuring that all banks continue to be compliant and that the general public is the winner at the end of the day.  Surely we have seen a drop in the lending rate from 27% to 21% which represents a 22% drop.  The good thing about this is that commercial bank’s might be able to avail loans with much lower interest rates for investment purposes.  If this is well managed, hopefully the investments can results in an increase in local production and employment.

A recent press release by the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of The Gambia, described the financial sector as “safe, sound and profitable.”  It says total assets of the industry amounted to D35.7 billion in June 2017 compared to D29.6 billion in June 2016.  This shows that the banking industry is growing and continues to be stable.  We owe the sound financial system to the government, and The Central Bank of The Gambia.

Ok, now let’s talk about your mobile App.  What’s the story behind this GTBank App? Why would customers need it?

Our desire to bring greater convenience to customers is the real reason why we have deployed the GTBank Mobile App. The App allows our esteemed customers to transact on their phones anywhere and at any time of the day.

Today as we all know very well people are so obsessed with their phones, therefore deploying this App would enable our customers enjoy the opportunity to do their banking transactions on their phones thereby saving them the time, energy and money that could have been utilised if they had visited our branches for the services.  It also gives them the opportunity to be in control of their accounts at all times.

What are the new features the App offers on top of the internet banking packages already existing?

GTBank Mobile App allows our customers the opportunity to transact on their accounts at their convenience and with so much ease.  In addition to features on our internet banking platform, the App would allow customers buy cash power, buy credit of any GSM network, pay for school fees, transfer funds from within their accounts and also third party transfers within GTBank and to other accounts held with other banks. 

The App also allows our customers perform card-less ATM withdrawals and POS Payments at Merchant Locations. This means that our customers can initiate ATM withdrawals by generating a PIN with their mobile App.  The PIN can be used to withdraw cash at the ATM without using the ATM card.  What this also means is that a customer can generate a PIN which could be sent to anyone and the person could walk to any of our ATMs to withdraw cash. That is an amazing service, isn’t it?

…sounds amazing…

You can also locate our branches/ATMs using the App, and check for our indicative Foreign Exchange Buying and Selling Rates, among other things.

How secure will customer’s personal and banking information be on this App?

The GTBank Mobile Banking App is a very secured platform; customers who want to access the platform for the first time are required to register via the application. The registration is validated against the customer’s card details; the customer is expected to enter the Primary Account Number (PAN), CVV and the Card Pin. For customers who do not have Verve card, they will be required to register at the Customer Information Service desk where customer verification will also be conducted.

More importantly, the transaction is done via a secure channel (Same channel where ATM transactions are done); transactions are passed through a device called Hardware Security Module (HSM) that provides data encryption and protection against spoofing.  Access to the application will require a username and password created at the time of registration. Each transaction related service will prompt customers for PIN validation.

How complementary will the App be to the mobile banking and ATM services?

The GTBank Mobile App provides complimentary services to the ATM through the use of the card-less ATM withdrawal service; i.e. customers can make withdrawals from the ATM without the use of their card.  Customers generate a unique, card-less code from their mobile phones and the code is then used to withdraw money from the ATM.  This is particularly helpful when a customer wants to transfer cash to a third party who is in a remote area like the provinces.

It also complements the USSD Mobile Banking service because it requires Internet Service and as such it can be accessed anywhere in the world. The USSD Mobile Banking service has limited usage only within the country.  Essentially, the GTBank Mobile Banking App allows us to reach a wider reach of customers outside the country.

Will mobile banking service users still need this App for better convenience?

The Mobile Banking Service is limited to users based in The Gambia while the GTBank App can be used anywhere in the world by our customers.

What more should GTBank customers expect in the year ahead?

In 2018, we hope to consolidate the gains made over the years. We have launched a five-year strategic plan, which like the former one, puts emphasis on innovative and excellent service delivery as the backbone of our business. And given that our society is gradually moving on to a cashless society, we are ready to deploy vending solutions on our ATMs, POS and other electronic platforms. We will surely improve on our existing service delivery.

It is the bank’s policy to give back to the society that has helped us grow over the years.  So in our Corporate Social Responsibility interventions, we would continue to support laudable and deserving initiatives in the country, notably in the health, sports, and education and environment sectors. We support our customers especially the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSE). We have earlier this year set up a specialised unit for SMEs and we look forward to scaling up investments in this area in the course of the New Year.

Thank you for your time.

You are welcome.

Source: Picture: MD Mr Ayodele