FBN Bank Ghana is turning the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic into building systems that are more robust and ready to do things differently, assuming the world suddenly fully opens for business or another unexpected shock strikes to disrupt the way banks operate in the country.
The bank is deploying some of its fresh capital raised in 2018 to investing in new digital platforms and computer systems that are making it possible and safe for all staff to work remotely if required and to meet a sudden surge in demand for their service, without damage to quality and effectiveness of delivery, Managing Director Victor Yaw Asante, said in an interview.
“We’re making sure that when the world fully opens for business we are in the position to handle the increase in trade,” Mr Asante said.
“Fraud issues are becoming significant so we invested a lot in business continuity plans that focus on cyber-related issues which will ensure that the bank can evacuate all staff working in one location to working from different locations,” he added.
The health pandemic has been a major test to the survival and continuity of all businesses. To Ghanaian banks it was more of the latter, whether customers could continue to transact with their banks amid the lockdown, observing physical distancing protocols and the disruptions to normal working hours.
While admitting that the virus or its effect was a rare type of unknown that confronted banks because of its ability to take human life, he said the banking sector cleanup and the accompanying recapitalization exercise between 2017 and 2019 prepared the industry well for the unexpected.
“When you have capital you can deploy it in lending or improve your capacity to bank better,” he noted.
FBN Bank Ghana’s loans and advances have been quite strong during the pandemic as it identified and disbursed to those in need and supported new entrants in areas directly involved in dealing with the pandemic.
That saw the loans book growing 280 per cent in the first half even though it was partly driven by a small base.
The high growth in advances does not pose serious threats to non- performing loans because the bank is reducing that risk amid the pandemic by increasing its direct control in the affairs of the companies it gives credit to.
“The pandemic situation doesn’t stop anyone from doing a great work,” Mr. Asante said. “Our results will continue to go in the right direction but we’ll play it safely, fairly, competitively and very ambitiously.”