Dr. Edem Bart Williams
Commerz Savings and Loans, the newest entrant to the financial sector, is seeking to deploy technological tools to attract more of the unbanked population into the banking sector.
Dr. Edem Bart Williams, Managing Director of the new savings and Loans Company, in an interview, said Commerz is coming into the market to do things differently in order to deepen financial inclusion with the use of technology.
“Commerz is coming to do a different thing: it is basically for financial inclusion and this is meeting the needs of the table top businesses as well as the medium and small scale enterprises (SMEs),” he said.
He added that Commerz will soon be introducing two new technologically backed mobile banking products: Combanking and Comnet banking, to attract the informal sector into the banking space.
“We have a lot of technology-backed products to attract the informal sector because the only way they are connected to the internet is through their mobile phones. So what we are going to do more is to use the mobile banking application platform. So that’s were Commerz strength will be, leveraging on technology and innovation to serve the SMEs,” he added.
He explained that the new mobile-based banking applications being introduced by Commerz are customised to suit the needs of the informal sector.
“The application is in existence and we are doing our final trials and within the next couple of weeks we will launch fully. It is developed in the house and really suited for the market that we are targeting,” he said.
Dr. Williams added that Commerz’s ATMs are already linked to Ghlink and therefore customers can use the ATM cards on other Ghlink ATM cards.
Data from the Registrar General’s Department shows that 90percent of companies in Ghana are SMEs and these companies employ more than 80percent of the workforce and contribute about 70percent of GDP.
Analysts have noted that SMEs, therefore, have catalytic impacts on economic growth, income and employment. Despite their contributions to economic growth, SMEs face challenges including absence of adequate and timely banking finance, limited capital and knowledge, non-availability of suitable technology, and many more.
It is these challenges that Dr. Williams is optimistic that with the introduction of Commerz into the banking sector, technology would be utilise to bring in more and more informal businesses into the banking sector.
He noted that many financial institutions in the country are just paying lip service to the SME sector and not actually supporting them.
“They mostly focus on the big end of the SMEs market, not the middle or the lower end. If you look at the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) debt some are sitting on the books of these SME-focused banks. We are going to work with the market women and men, those who sell the pepper and okro and on table tops,” he said.
He noted that Commerz was born out of the quest to serve the SME market, because there are so many companies that need financial help tailored to suit their needs.
“We are going to do the real banking by bringing them in to include them and that is what financial inclusion is. We are not going to play at the high end but the middle and lower end of the market because they need the loans and resources to change their fortunes,” he added.