May 6, 2009, 5:02 AM
The days the banking public in The Gambia has to be toiling with physical cash transactions are fast becoming history. This is because major financial intermediaries in The Gambia have made it a point of duty to transform The Gambia from cash to cashless society through the e-payment system.
Whilst the people and economies of other nations around the world are now enjoying the value and benefits of e-payment, through devices such as Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), people in The Gambia are still struggling with making financial transactions and checking their cash records via the counter or bank branches. They also have to be travelling with large amounts of cash from one point of the country to another or from the Gambia to other destinations they travel, with all the inconvenience, insecurity and risks associated with traveling with substantial amount of physical cash.
Whilst this situation is still faced by people in The Gambia, there are countries in Africa today, such as Nigeria and South Africa, where between 50 and 75% of bank customers prefer withdrawing money and checking cash balances via ATMs over bank branches, due to the availability of such facilities.
Access Bank Gambia Limited, which pitched tent in The Gambia seven years ago, is on the verge of replicating such a situation in the country and boosting the Gambian economy, through its E-Banking Products – such as its Point of Sale (POS) terminals, its Visa Credit Card, and lately its Visa Debit Card.
These e-banking products have been set out to develop and expand the e-payment industry in The Gambia, which will go a long way in stimulating growth in the country’s economy, as is seen in other emerging and developed economies.
The advantages of these products are immense.
For instance, Access Bank’s Point of Sale (POS) Terminals is a portable device that allows customers to make electronic payment for purchases of good and services using their Access Bank Gambia ATM Card.
Its benefits, according to Ndeye Amie Jallow, Group Head of Access Bank Corporate Banking, include saving enough time for users as opposed to making physically withdrawals through bank branches, minimizing cash handling and reconciliation, eliminating the risk of counterfeit currency and pilfering, reconciling and tracking transactions anytime, increasing sales for merchants, and reducing pilferage by sales.
In 2008 Access Bank also introduced Visa International Credit Card, a dollar-based Credit Card globally accepted in over 29 million merchant locations, on over 2 million ATMs worldwide and in more than 220 countries.
Access Bank Visa International Credit Card can also be used to make payments through such systems as Point of Sale terminals (POS), Internet, and Telephone orders.
The bank, being a trendsetting bank in many respects, has also introduced in The Gambia’s financial industry the Access Bank Visa Classic Debit Card to fast-track business and financial transaction, as well as promote economic growth, through e-payment.
Presenting this latest product at its recent launch at the Coco Ocean Resort & Spa, Ndeye Amie Jallow says: “The Access Bank Visa Classic Debit Card is linked to an Individual/Corporate Dalasi account designed to provide account holders with access to cash directly from their accounts anytime they need it.”
She also said the Visa Classic Debit Card is useable on over 2 million ATMs in over 200 countries worldwide for cash withdrawals, bill payment, and purchase of goods and services.
It can also be used via POS terminals and the Internet to print out mini statements, and make International transactions.
The benefits of the card, according to Ms Jallow , include a secure, convenient and simple way of using it; instant cash withdrawals round the clock; permission of global access to funds in customers’ accounts, safety for customer as against carrying large amounts of cash around; useable on Visa-enabled ATMs, POS and websites, and safety and security of transaction due to chip and pin technology.
Giving a brief rundown of the bank’s trendsetting record, Access Bank Gambia MD/CEO Dapo Fajemirokun said: “Access Bank is the first African Bank to install Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in The Gambia, the first Bank to introduce Point of Sale (POS) terminals in The Gambia, the first Local Bank to conduct a Preference Share issue, the first Bank to win consecutive Governor’s Inter-Bank Football Tournaments, the first Bank to sponsor a student exchange programme between The Gambia and Nigeria through the University of Benin, and the first Bank to issue both Visa Credit and Debit Cards in The Gambia!”
Talking about Access Bank Corporate Philosophy, MD Dapo said their Vision is to be the most respected bank in Africa; and their Mission is to set standards for sustainable business practices that unleash the talents of their employees, deliver superior value to their customers and provide innovative solutions for the markets and communities they serve.
Their Core values, he said, include leadership, excellence, empowered employees, passion for customers, professionalism, and innovation.
Ad valorem (“by value”): An ad valorem tax is a tax on the price of a good or service.
Bridging finance: A short-term loan provided by a venture capital provider while a company is seeking alternative finance, e.g. by flotation
Flotation: The issue of shares in a company on a stock exchange or unlisted securities market for the first time. The method may bean introduction, an intermediate offer, a placing or an offer for sale.
Chartist:A stock market analyst who predicts share price movements solely from the study of graphs of share prices and sometimes trading volumes.
Chinese wall: A communications barrier between members or departments of a financial institution intended to preventthe transfer of price-sensitive information.
Merchant bank: An institution that carries out a variety of financialservices, 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.
Direct investment: Investment in the foreign operations of a company; e.g. by a multinational company.Direct investment implies control, and managerial and perhaps technical input, and is generally preferred by the host country to portfolio investment. Direct investment can take the form of the purchase of an existing company or the establishment of a new operation.
Portfolio: A group of securities held as an investment; a branch or class of insurance business
Portfolio theory: Economic analysis of the means by which investors can minimize risk and maximize returns. Central to portfolio theory are the notions that risk can be reduced by diversifying holdings of asset, while returns are a function of expected risk.
Ethical investing: The practice by participants in the capital market of attempting to influence company balance by investing only in companies that observe certain standards of behavior.
Global product company: A firm that has products that are distributed and sold all over the world.
Source: The Penguin International Dictionary of Business and Finance