With 40,000 customers and 14,000 subscribers on its mobile Application, Ecobank – the pan-African bank, will have hit a target of 100,000 customers before the end of the year, the group CEO told KT Press on Tuesday.
“We have very bigger ambitions in Rwanda because of what the government is teaching people to go digital,” said Ade Ayeyemi, bank’s Group CEO.
“We are looking to become a big player even on the continental level but not because of our big balance sheet, but in terms of contributing to the services that help solve problems on the continent”.
With operations in 40 countries across Africa, Ayeyemi said the bank has shifted to digital with several Applications launched to enable customers get convenient services.
The big push, however, comes at a time when the bank has closed more than 100 branches across the continent including 11 in Rwanda.
“We are not the only institution closing physical branches,” he said. “Even governments have closed down their postal offices to use other sophisticated technology like emails. This is the way we are going.”
Ayeyemi spoke to KT Press in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the ongoing Transform Africa Summit in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
There have been lamentations by the bank’s staff that they would lose jobs as the bank continues to close its branches.
But for Ayeyemi, “A successful bank is not measured by the number of people they hire but the number of customers that enable it to be profitable.”
In 2017, the 35-year-old bank made a pre-tax profit of $288 million up from a loss of $131 million made in 2016.
The return to profit, the bank says was due to ongoing digital infrastructure at the bank.
But this came when the bank’s non-performing loans increased by 12 percent from $948 million in 2016 to $1 billion in 2017.
In Rwanda alone, the bank recorded a non-performing loan ratio of 22 percent in 2017, which is way above the 5 percent limit imposed by the central bank.
Meanwhile, Ayeyemi told KT Press that one of the bank’s plans is to support the recently signed Africa Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali.
“We are ready. As you can see we are the only financial institutions here from outside Rwanda who is platinum sponsors of Transform Africa Summit. This itself shows you our readiness,” he said.