Edward Effah, MD of Fidelity Bank (2nd from left) Dr. William Derban, Director Financial inclusion (2nd from right) & Millison Narh, 1st Deputy Governor, Bank of Ghana (3rd from right)

Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited, Edward Effah says the only way to fight poverty is to grant everybody access to credit facilities.

?Access to credit is what is needed at the moment. If people have access to credit, we will probably be putting poverty in the museum.?

Mr. Effah was speaking at the official launch of Fidelity Bank?s new Agency Banking, which would offer ?Smart Accounts? as part of the bank?s financial inclusion strategy programme.

Under Agency Banking, the bank would use third party retail outlets including shops, supermarkets, stalls and pharmacies to offer banking services to people.

They would offer services through Fidelity Smart Agents across the country with the approval of the Bank of Ghana (BoG).

?Fidelity Agency Banking is a secure way to deposit and withdraw funds, pay bills and transfer money from a special current or savings account and the creation of the Smart Account is expected to take only five minutes,? the MD said.

He said financial inclusion, as promoted by most countries, had become possible due to the emergence of ICT and Ghana must take advantage to get the people to accept formal banking as means to change lives.

?After 57 years of independence and over 100 years of banking in Ghana, the majority the country?s population is still unbanked. As we sit here statistics show that only 30% of Ghanaians are banked but this can be improved.

?We have to step up our effort to get everybody to have an account and through this people could have easy access to credit.

He said the bank put in a lot of research including understudying many countries before coming out with Agency Banking, noting that it took them three years to roll it out.

Mr. Effah also said Fidelity Bank?s contribution to the economy had been commended by all, saying ?we are currently the leading bank financing the energy sector. We have also financed the housing sector, SMEs and other major infrastructure projects.?

Jim Baiden, Deputy MD of Fidelity Bank, said the bank had expanded to become the second largest indigenous bank in Ghana after only eight years in existence with 50 branches and 75 ATMs.

He said ?what we have done today is a demonstration of our resolve to lead a crusade to bring every Ghanaian into mainstream banking.

?We are the pacesetters and we want to make financial inclusion a reality by 2020.?

Dr. William Derban, Director of Financial Inclusion at Fidelity Bank, said they started the pilot testing of Agency Banking three month ago and had been able to open 13,000 Smart Accounts.

He said 1,200 accounts were created daily and with 255 touch points of the bank, they were targeting one million accounts annually.

Dr. Derban said the bank?s financial literacy programme was yielding dividends, saying ?it is helping us to educate the public on misconceptions in the banking sector.

Millison Narh, a Deputy Governor at the BoG, who officially launched Fidelity Bank?s new Agency Banking, tasked Fidelity Bank to put in place effective measures to mitigate operational risks.

Joseph Chognuru, a Director at the Ministry of Finance, reiterated the government?s commitment to create an enabling environment for the banking sector to thrive.

By William Yaw Owusu


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