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Business & Finance: A quantum leap by Access Bank

Feb 24, 2011, 11:20 AM | Article By: Ousman Kargbo

The big bang into the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) by Access Bank plc has made it the 1st African bank outside South Africa to be admitted to the membership of this “elite” organization. This provides a cogent example of the benefits of contributing to the development of the financial markets across Africa, not the least The Gambia.  

Access Bank has registered another significant imprint in its financial markets dealings across Africa including The Gambia.

The recent admittance of the bank to Primary Membership of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) is a confirmation of Access Bank’s ongoing presence in the domestic market of the territories its operates.

ISDA is a global trade association, established in 1985, representing participants in the privately negotiated derivatives industry, i.e. the business including interest rates, currency, commodity, and equity swaps as well as related caps, collars, floors and swaptions.

Its international membership totals over 200, comprising most of the world’s major institutions which deal in, or are leading end-users of, private negotiated derivatives.

The association’s primary purpose is to encourage the prudent and efficient development of privately negotiated derivatives business. It represents members in regulatory and legislative matters. “[International Swaps and Derivatives Association] has produced the ISDA Master Agreement, a widely used and authoritative document for which legal backing has been attained in a number of countries,” said Graham Bannock, a graduate of the London School of Economics and author of several books on finance and business.

Access Bank’s admittance as a member of this prestigious association is considered to be a strong reflection of its leadership in the financial markets, which include derivatives such as futures, options and swaps, that is, instruments derived from conventional direct dealings in securities, currencies and commodities.

How Access Bank is fuelling these financial transactions in The Gambia is a take of its own but it is a fact that since its inception in The Gambia some 4 years ago, the bank has been playing its customary roles of taking deposits from and giving out loans to, companies and individuals thereby channeling funds from lenders to borrowers.

Its role in the banking industry and financial market also include trading in foreign exchange and other securities and instruments such a T-bills.

Nevertheless Access Bank is highly expected to translate its parent bank’s landmark membership of ISDA to a better, profitable and beneficial achievement for the banking population of The Gambia.

Since it commences operations in The Gambia, Access Bank Gambia Limited has rolled out substantial products and services that include current, fixed, savings and domiciliary accounts; Western Union money transfer services, letters of credit, foreign draft issuance, collection of bills of exchange, remittances, cash management, overdrafts, time and term loans, project financing, structured trade finance, equipment leasing, and bonds and guarantees.

One of the bank’s sterling products is its Smart Savers Account. The Access Smart Savers Account is a savings account with the trappings of a current account. “It is a high yield account with features and benefits that provide world class financial services to all its subscribers,” the bank says.

Its features include an opening minimum balance of D100, a free debit card, and a 7 per cent interest rate, whilst some of its benefits are high yielding interest on account balances, unrestricted access to cash anytime, anywhere, no commission on turnover (zero COT), and transaction convenience through its automated payment structures and e-business solutions.


Despite the fact that commercial banks continue to bolster the economy of the country, many areas of economic and financial development are yet to be covered. It is believed that all the banks in the country have made quick-end profits their primary concern with absolutely no interest in long term investments.

In a clear cut analysis of this situation, an expert in banking and finance makes this statement about the Gambia finance and banking environment vis-à-vis national development.

Alhaji T.S.A. Njie, chairman of the Gambia Competition Commission, says: “We need to have banks that are focused on industry and agriculture, banks that are focused in other types of housing and urban development. That is not the case presently; what we have are all commercial banks – retail banks lending to small-scale and medium-size businesses, financing short-term trade and that is it, the rest is consumer banking. Whereas that is important, it does not help the development process. Development means we have to build industries, we have to build the services sector, expand the housing sector, and we have to invest in education.”


Abbreviated accounts: (UK) Under directives of the EU Incorporated in UK company law, small and medium companies are permitted to disclose less information for public inspection than larger firms.  The shorter accounts they file are known as abbreviated accounts. Small and medium companies are defined in terms of turnover, assets and employment.

Accepting house: An institution specializing in accepting or guaranteeing bills of exchange. All accepting houses have taken on other functions as the use of bills of exchange has declined, returning to their original, wider, function of merchant banking.

Merchant bank: An institution that carries  out a variety of financial services, including the acceptance of bills of exchange, the issue and placing of loans and securities, portfolio and unit trust management , foreign exchange  market dealing and some banking services.

Balance of payments: A measure of the income of a nation, with respect to its transactions, with other nations. The balance of payments consists of credits and debits.

Barrier to entry: Any factor which creates an impediment to new competition in a market or industry. Such barriers come in a variety of forms.

Barrier to exit: Restriction on the ability of a producer to withdraw from an activity, or to redeploy its resources to an alternative activity. Such restrictions may be legal, designed to protect communities from the discomfort of factory closure.

Barrier to trade: Generally, any feature of a nation’s economy which impedes international trade and, thus, has the effect of fostering a more national-oriented economy. Most often, discussion of such barriers is preoccupied with government-imposed barriers to trade. Such barriers most often used to take the form of tariffs, which are explicit taxes on imports, designed to promote the interests of domestic producers.

Cannibalization: The phenomenon where a new brand extension or line extension takes sales away from established brands that are owned by the same organization. This will occur when both brands are bought by the same group of consumers. This is a severe problem if it is unintended and if the shift is from high-margin brands to lower-margin ones.

Cartel:  An arrangement between otherwise competing producers to act in collusion with the goal of raising prices and collective profits. A cartel attempts to create monopoly-type conditions in what should be a competitive industry – with participants restraining the amount they produce in order to keep supply down and thus prices high at the expense of consumers.

Delayering: The removal of one or more layers of a management hierarchy from an organization’s structure. In theory it provides greater responsibility to those staff below the layer that has been removed; however, it is sometimes a euphemism for removing people and making them redundant.