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Business News of Monday, 16 April 2007

Source: GNA

Barclays introduces Aba Pa account for masses

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Accra, April 16, GNA - Barclays Bank on Monday introduced a new product dubbed: "Aba Pa" savings and current accounts to encourage more Ghanaians to access bank services.

The product, which targets the employed with low-income levels below 500,000 cedis and the agricultural sector, offers customers low initial deposits and transaction costs to grow their savings balance on a graduated scale.

Briefing the media in Accra, Mr Elly Odhong, Retail Director for Barclays Bank, said "Aba Pa", which required a minimum opening balance of 40,000 cedis, would also provide funeral insurance cover, a Visa Electronic Debit card and access to loans for all its customers. According to him, the Bank had adopted flexible requirement measures to open the account in order to ensure that their customers were not overburdened with excessive documentation.

Mr Odhong stated that "Aba Pa" would help erase perceptions that Barclays was a bank for the elite and create understanding that the Bank believed in equal access to world class banking and financial services. Mrs Margaret Mwanakwatwe, Managing Director, Barclays Bank, said it was unfortunate that banking had become a preserve for some segments of society and only 10 per cent of the Ghanaian population had bank accounts.

She said the percentage was even not encouraging on the continental level, since 92 per cent of people in developing countries still lacked access to financial services compared with the figure of almost five per cent in the United Kingdom.

Mrs Mwanakwatwe said it was important to note that today's imperatives no longer supported arguments that shut out the population from accessing banking products and services, since banking was essential for poverty alleviation. She expressed optimism that Barclays would open more branches in Accra and Kumasi in order to bring banking to the doorsteps of the general public.

The Managing Director challenged banks to be more innovative and develop different banking products for different segments, saying, "no matter one's limitations, social and economic circumstance there should be something of interest to that person in the bank".

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