By Julian Kingsley Opuni, MD, Fidelity Bank Ghana
The Bank of Ghana, Ghana’s central bank, recently implemented a recapitalisation policy for commercial banks that led to the collapse of some banks and mergers between others. This policy brought about fewer but much stronger banks. Amongst those that survived, Fidelity Bank continues to stand out.
Fidelity’s COVID-19 interventions
The role of the banking sector in the holistic development of any country is critical, and Ghana is no exception. As one of the best banks in Ghana, Fidelity Bank has instituted a set of emergency measures to cushion customers and also to support the Government of Ghana as the battle to defeat COVID-19 wages.
Fidelity Bank donated GHC 1million to support the building of the COVID-19 Infectious Disease and Isolation Facility, the first of this type of facility to be built in Ghana. Our bank believes that the government alone cannot shoulder the burden of this pandemic, hence the resolve to support it.
In the spirit of working together to protect the welfare of its customers and clients against the effects of COVID-19, Fidelity Bank reduced interest rates on personal loans for qualifying customers to 17.5 per cent, which includes a relief option of a maximum three-month repayment holiday. Also, we have postponed loan repayments and restructured loans for existing borrowers hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a digitally driven bank, Fidelity has waived interbank transfer fees on all digital transactions and mobile-wallet transaction fees during this pandemic. The bank enhanced its mobile app to allow customers to apply for salary advances, overdraft-limit increases and loan top-ups from the comfort of their homes.
As for priority sectors of the economy, we have earmarked our SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) and corporate clients directly impacted by the current pandemic to receive relief packages, which include loan moratoriums and loan-restructuring opportunities.
Additionally, in conjunction with the bank’s partnership with the Dutch Government/SNV Netherlands Development Organisation to support the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector, all borrowers across the WASH value chain will enjoy a concessionary rate of 10 per cent per annum for qualifying loans.
In the health sector, the bank has expanded its partnership-funding programme with the Medical Credit Fund, designed to support the healthcare sector by offering a concessionary financing rate reduction of 2 per cent.
Socially responsible bank
Since Fidelity began operations as Fidelity Discount House in 1998, its mission has been to make a meaningful difference to leave a lasting, positive impact on the Ghanaian society. Beyond the hard numbers, the bank is actively engaged with the civic community, working in partnership with its stakeholders to implement a host of initiatives targeted at improving social welfare. Including the following – the enactment of a Malaria Prevention Fundraising program, supported by the launch of the Korle-Bu Critical Care Fund; constructed a 12-seater biofil toilet facility at St. Maurice R/C Junior High School (JHS); supported the UK Ambassadors Ghana Grand Cycling tour; sponsored training programs for disabled persons and JHS pupils at Junior Achievement Africa; partnered with developmental organisations including USAID (United States Agency for International Development), FSD (Financial Sector Deepening) Africa, GIZ, Solidaridad and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation to impact rural lives with financial services. The bank truly lives by the principle of “Together We’re More”.
Fidelity Bank’s “Together We’re More” campaign
The word together means being united in a common goal. It involves joint action, working in harmony, a combined effort. When people are connected, they agree on what to do and how to do it. They act together to achieve a unified purpose. Fidelity Bank believes driving success by working with all of our stakeholders.
Support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
Fidelity Bank, in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy, has rolled out a GHC 195,000 support plan for Ghanaian entrepreneurs through the Orange Corners Innovation Fund (OCIF) in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. This grant enables the selected entrepreneurs to keep their businesses healthy, given the business challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OCIF is an initiative of the Netherlands executed by MDF West Africa and in partnership with Fidelity Bank. The Fund intends to, among other goals, increase access to affordable credit for young entrepreneurs, especially women; promote growth; and contribute to the sustainability of the young-entrepreneur ecosystem by leveraging on strategic-partnership offerings.
Agency-banking project means financial inclusion
As part of its strategy to embed financial inclusion as a core part of its business model, Fidelity in 2014 became the first financial institution in Ghana licensed by the Bank of Ghana to undertake agency banking. This model makes it possible for a traditional bank to extend its reach cost-effectively via authorised agents across the country. (Fidelity Bank calls its agents Fidelity Bank Agents.)
The company offered eligible Ghanaians full bank accounts, despite limitations that previously excluded them. Today, the bank has about 2,000 agents and more than 1,000 commissionable agents running on a flexible-agent model with master agents and agent assistants. That, in itself, is an industry innovation for the books.
In response to changing trends in banking worldwide and to customer needs, Fidelity Bank has introduced distinct approaches, including the expansion of overall digital capabilities—ensuring that all channels are delivered effortlessly and for customer engagement.
The newly upgraded Fidelity Mobile App is easier to use, convenient for everyone and relatively faster. The refreshed look and feel comes with offerings for sole-proprietor customers, a salary-advance-request feature for salaried workers, fingerprint- and facial-recognition login options, and more.
Some of Fidelity Bank’s swift Orange digital services include e-lounges and smart ATMs, smart accounts for inclusive banking, customer-journey insights using technology, bank-agnostic platforms and many others. As part of Fidelity’s digitisation expansion, the bank has opened four digital-bank branches with e-lounges at Osu, KNUST (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology), Labone and East Legon, with many more in the offing.
Strong financial strength
The bank’s projected strength derives from the strong financial performance it has posted over the last two years.
In 2019, Fidelity Bank Ghana recorded an impressive GHC 322 million in proﬁt before tax, representing a significant growth of 33 per cent from the GHC 242 million recorded in 2018. The bank’s operating income also increased to GHC 903 million from GHC 690 million in 2018, representing a 31-per cent growth. The bank recorded a 49-per cent growth in total assets, moving from GHC 7.0 billion in 2018 to GHC 10.5 billion in 2019, with its deposit base also increasing by 17 per cent to GHC 5.2 billion.
Fidelity Bank has won more than 60 awards for its anti-money-laundering compliance measures and been named a top-five sub-custodian in Ghana for asset management. Other awards include those for customer service, digital product offering, human resources, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and overall best bank.
Ghanaians believe that by working together, we can achieve so much more a sentiment articulated by Fidelity Bank’s mantra “Together We’re More”.
Fidelity Bank: “Believe with us!”