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Business News of Monday, 1 June 2020

Source: Laud Business

Huge investments made in banks – Vish Ashiagbor

The Country Senior Partner – PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC Ghana), Vish Ashiagbor has said more investments have been made by banks to enable them withstand shocks.

He some of these investments are in the area of digitization and technology.

“We’ve been on a journey as far as digitization and electronic transactions are concern in this country in the banking industry for some time so actually it’s no surprise and it’s nothing new…what this situation has led to is an acceleration of that effort and to be honest, I think that maybe apart from one or two specific areas as far as banking operations are a concern, the issue is on the consumer or the customer side rather than on the bank side because banks have for so some time now been working towards a digitize or electronic way of doing business.

“That has already been identified as a way that banks can gain a competitive advantage. But now it moved from being a competitive advantage to more or less a necessity. So it’s not really a surprise but it is something that has demanded the acceleration of that efforts,” he told Joy News.

Mr Ashiagbor said “I think that banks have invested and are reasonably well equipped. What will change is how they do business with their customers and how they track and monitor their exposure to a different segment of the economy and different customers that are operating in those segment. Because of the historical assumptions that we’ve all been used to are now all going to change.

“As we sit here today, nobody is quite sure in which direction those changes are going to go. So I think that’s more the issue, but in terms of investment, I think more investments have been made. Whether you are talking about digitization or whether you are talking about the banks’ resources to be able to withstand some of these challenges that we foresee.”

He said “I wouldn’t say they’ve always been ready but I think what we have seen over the last two to three years as the whole industry has been strengthened by the various reforms that started in 2017 by let’s call it good fortune or by some foresight by policymakers or regulators. We find ourselves in a situation that the banks are indeed stronger to be able to deal with the challenge that has crept upon us.

“So today, I think they are ready but it’s not the case that they’ve always been ready. It is something that has happened by the steps and reforms that has taken place over the last two to three years.”

“Alongside the rest of the world, in fact, our business has also been going through the digitization phase, nothing to do with covid-19, it’s something that we started some years ago. So today if you look at the audit side of the business, there are aspects of it that can be done electronically, by having access to data, by having access to systems and you can do your auditing that way. But there are some things that today still require some physical presence.

“For example, if you have to do a cash count at the end of the year, you have to go and count the cash in the vault. You can’t do that electronically. So there are one or two areas that we still have to scratch our heads and think about how maybe one day we can get into an electronic way of doing. So we are on the same journey, we are not there 100 per cent, its work in progress…”

He added, “I think that something will change but it will not change immediately. Over the years banks have moved from what we call the brick and mortar way of doing business to more electronic channels.”

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