Finance minister commends local banks for investing in modern technology
Monday, February 18, 2019
Finance minister commends local banks for investing in modern technology

Seychelles: Seychelles Nation

Mobile banking apps, internet banking facilities and ATM cards that allow for online purchases are among the various technological products and services that local banks are increasingly offering.

The Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, noted that due to the competitive nature of the local banking sector, nowadays banks have no other options but to listen to their clients and optimise their services through the inclusion of modern technology.

Minister Loustau-Lalanne was speaking following his visit to three commercial banks on Friday during which the topic of innovation and technology-led growth was the most prominent talking point.

The banks visited were the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), Bank of Baroda and Seychelles Commercial Bank (SCB).

Minister Loustau-Lalanne was accompanied by a delegation consisting of the secretary of state Patrick Payet, principal secretary for finance Damien Thesée, principal secretary for investment Michael Nalletamby and the director general for human resource and budget management from the same ministry Myrna Bonnelame.

To note, Friday’s visit follows similar ones that Minister Loustau-Lalanne started last year but could not complete due to the 2019 budget preparations.

At MCB the delegation were met and given a tour of the facilities by the managing director Bernard Jackson and his management team.

Although a comparatively new addition to the banking sector, having started its operations in 2003, MCB has grown to become one of the leading commercial banks in the country with over 180 employees and seven branches throughout the country.

The minister was apprised of MCB’s efforts to improve its banking services such as its mobile banking app, Juice, as well as the bank’s recruitment strategy among other issues.

“We also addressed our challenges which include difficulties in loan disbursement and we have to improve our relationship with the registrar in order to speed up the registration process to facilitate the disbursement of loans,” Mr Jackson told the press.

Mr Jackson further added that the bank also spoke of the need to increase the accuracy of credit information so as to ensure that banks can better discern which loans to give out.

Meanwhile at the Bank of Baroda, Minister Loustau-Lalanne learned of the bank’s plan to install its first ATM outlet in the country in March this year, a surprising fact for a company that has been operating in Seychelles since 1978.

In that regard Minister Loustau-Lalanne commented:  “The Bank of Baroda has been in Seychelles for 41 years and have come up with various innovative projects to boost its services. It’s the only bank that does not have an ATM machine; all the others have so I have pressed them to have one and they promised to have one up by March. They also want to move into internet banking, which is being offered by other banks.”

The bank’s chief executive, Ashok Kumar, stated that the bank has already tested the ATM outlet which will go live once the bank receives regulatory approval. Its online banking services expect to follow suit shortly after.

Minister Loustau-Lalanne noted that these initiatives mark a positive development for Baroda.

He expressed the same sentiment after his tour of the SCB’s head office and corporate division at Orion Mall since it also has ongoing projects to make use of modern technology to facilitate banking transactions.

Annie Vidot, the bank’s chief executive, stated that the bank plans to introduce debit cards that will allow for foreign transactions and online payments by March or April this year and online banking in mid-2019.

It is also updating its website to facilitate e-banking and working with retailers and businesses to introduce point-of-sale (POS) systems.

Since the bank has over 52,000 bank accounts and caters to a lot of pensioners, long queues at the bank’s office at King’s Gate House is often the norm.

Mrs Vidot said that the bank is working to educate its clients to make more use of its ATM and upcoming online banking facilities in order to reduce the long queues.

Overall, Minister Loustau-Lalanne commended the banks for engaging more with their customers and shifting from physical banking to the more convenient digital world.

“These three banks are competing, but competing with the view of providing a better service for the clients so I am extremely satisfied,” Minister Loustau-Lalanne concluded.

The photos show Minister Loustau-Lalanne being led on a tour of the banks during his visit.