First Capital Plus Savings and Loans Company (FCP) has in under a year registered about 80,000 customers onto its Speed Banking service, helping pull in more informal sector operators, Mr. Alex Opare Nyanteh, Head of Speed Banking, has told B&FT  

“Our Speed Banking service, a novelty which allows our customers to transfer cash into their accounts by SMS messages, has exceeded our expectations by adding on more customers than even the normal banking operations have,” Nyanteh disclosed.

The service allows FCP account holders to purchase scratch-cards of various denominations, readily available at market centres and text the face-value of the card through a dedicated short code on their mobile phones, which is instantly credited to their accounts with FCP.

The SME-focused Savings and Loans bank recorded explosive growth, with 2011 Operating Profits Before Income Tax shooting up 2,739.9 percent to GH¢88.8million from GH¢0.31million in 2010.

Chief Operations Officer, Mr. John Kofi Mensah, said FCP’s growth has been made possible by sticking to core values of professionalism, speed, and accuracy among others in meeting customers’ needs.

“Our focal business is the SME segment, which accounts for about 90 percent of Ghana’s economy and yet its needs are largely underserved,” Mensah disclosed, adding that though considered a high-risk segment by banks, FCP’s model is yielding exceptional returns.

“If SMEs are assured that their next round of financing will not be unduly delayed, they most often honour their debt obligations promptly so as to qualify for more credit — thereby minimising the tendency to default on loan payments.

“We work hard to build a relationship with our customers based on reliability, integrity and trust; and a God-centred approach to business whilst leveraging technology to ensure speed in servicing their needs,” Mensah said.     

The FCP, which commenced operations in October, 2009 from a single branch at Tesano in Accra, has over the past couple of years expanded its base of operations to 10 branches in the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central and Western Regions, including its new purpose-built headquarters on the Spintex Road.

The company expects to roll-out 10 additional branches by the end of 2012.
Mr. Mensah disclosed that FCP’s other financial indicators have been equally impressive.
Net Interest Income skyrocketed to GH¢20.7million in 2011 from GH¢3.82 million in 2010, representing 442.2 percent growth. Customer Deposits also recorded an increase of 168.7 percent from GH¢36.07million in 2010 to GH¢96.93million in 2011.

The company now intends to expand its operations nationwide, with an eye to venturing into the rest of Africa in the near-future. It also has an eye on migrating into a full universal bank soon, pending meeting the requirements and approval of the Central Bank.

Mr. Stephan Antoh, Head of Corporate Affairs, Legal and Human Resource, disclosed that given the phenomenal growth of the company, there is need to deepen stakeholder interactions.

“We have developed a corporate blog and a newsletter — the FCP Quarterly Digest — in this pursuit, and also to provide an avenue of knowledge-dissemination for academic, professional and personal purposes.

He also noted that corporate social responsibility is a critical element in FCP’s corporate mandate due to deep-seated commitment to stakeholder improvements in line with FCP’s positioning of “seeing lives”.

The company has initiated several CSR programmes, including an emergency response fund that allows the company to speedily respond to medical and humanitarian emergencies, and the Young Entrepreneurs Programme targetted at young people that have practical business concepts but lack the requisite funding and technical knowhow.

By Emmanuel KWABLAH

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