BRUSSELS, 23 February 2018 – PostBank Uganda (Hereafter PBU) and WSBI recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to scale up Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) business model in the East African country.
Falling under WSBI's Making Small Scale Savings Work programme supported by the MasterCard Foundation, the bank will look to financially include at least 200,000 new small individual savers by 2020. Forty per cent of new savers will be youth, while women will make up just over a third. A quarter of new savers will be farmers.
PBU Managing Director Mr. Mukweli Stephen, said. “To reach our goal we will need to improve access. That requires us to initially select and pilot 480 agents, including five VSLA agents in the first year. We foresee that figure growing to 1260 agents, including 15 VSLA agents, during the scale up phase in subsequent years."
PBU will build on the capacity of 20 already mature VSLAs community groups to serve customers as agents within communities through already established linkages. Those mature VSLA group agents will be selected from within the pilot areas. Selecting VSLA group agents, who will come from selected communities, will be based on maturity. That means VSLA group agents will be screened for financial capacity and transaction history, commitment to development and growth efforts, the PBU Group's executive team's capabilities and history among other criteria guided by the Ugandan central bank for agency compliance.
WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose said: “PBU can now roll out agency banking upon approval from the central bank. That is thanks to the Financial Institutions (Amendment) Act, 2016 that was passed by the Ugandan parliament to allow financial institutions to provide agency banking, among others. Agency banking will be a game changer, helping PBU acquire new customers, especially in the rural hard to reach areas of the country."
The Ugandan agency banking rules allow PBU to have full end-to-end ownership of the distribution channel, which means the postal bank no longer need to rely on the Mobile Network Operators outside of communication services. It also means a more competitive banking landscape, where service quality will get a boost and pricing more attractive for customers.
The project has many innovative elements too, including a youth APP to particularly address young savers and an e-recording tool designed to help better understand financial and social behaviour of VSLA members and whether products are suitable for small-scale savers.
PBU's Mr. Mukweli Stephen concluded: “WSBI support matters a lot as we move towards our PBU inclusion strategy. Their support will help us bring into the financial mainstream hundreds of thousands of customers and transform many VSLA's groups into agents. That will help our country both now and in years to come."
James Pieper, WSBI-ESBG, on +32 2 211 1192 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jackie Tahakanizibwa Kwesiga, PostBank Uganda LTD, on +256 417157200 or at email@example.com
VSLAs are a way to give access to basic banking services for people living in mostly poverty-stricken areas where financial institutions oftentimes cannot reach. VSLA provide group of individuals in a close geographic area a place to save their money and access to lending products. They also serve as an entry point to formal financial services.
PBU's strategic direction is to be the financial institution of choice for the mass market with emphasis on the micro and small players in small-micro business, and along the agriculture value chain.
PBU is a Credit Taking Financial Institution regulated by the Central Bank, and has been in existence since 1926. It started out as a Department in the Uganda Post Office, and was incorporated as an independent Financial Institution in February 1998 in accordance to the Communications Act of 1997 to take over the operations of the former Post Office Savings Department. It has since grown from a Pass Book based operation, use of Smart Saver Cards, to an easy do-it-yourself (DIY) customer-centric Bank with Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) linked to customer accounts, and digitally enhanced mobile phone banking technology running on both low-cost USSD and Internet Apps. The Bank also has technologically enhanced mobile filed payment services using mobile banking vehicles that extend financial services to unbanked, underserved rural communities, with a specific focus on marginalized segments like the youth and women.
Currently, PBU has 41 brick and mortar branches, 80% located in rural areas more than 80 kilometres from the capital city, 13 Contact Centres/Service Outlets located in the rural areas of Bugembe, Sironko, Manafwa, Kyazanga, Rushere, Ibanda, Bundibugyo, Hima, Butogota, Kihihi, Amuru, Maracha, Kamdini and most recently in Kagadi, 10 mobile banking vehicles extending financial services and field payments to rural hard-to-reach areas, a secure mobile phone banking platform giving customers unlimited access to their accounts, and a total of 56 ATMs across its branch and Contact Centre network, linked to over 423 InterSwitch member partner banks ATMs to allow customers cost effective access to their accounts. As at end December 2017, PBU had 968,631 customers, 80% being rural based and 836 permanent staff.
WSBI represents the interests of 6,000 savings and retail banks globally, with total assets of $15 trillion and serving some 1.3 billion customers in nearly 80 countries (as of 2016). WSBI focuses on international regulatory issues that affect the savings and retail banking industry. It supports the aims of the G20 in achieving sustainable, inclusive, and balanced growth, and job creation, whether in industrialised or less developed countries. WSBI favours an inclusive form of globalization that is just and fair, supporting international efforts to advance financial access and financial usage for everyone.