Friday, July 19, 2024

My case for banking with GCB, from agrarian roots to digital innovation

I would mention GCB Bank PLC as my bank of choice and get raised eyebrows. “Ghana Commercial Bank? But Why?” I’d get asked. To me, the Indigenous boy who left and returned to the land as an Indigenous man with an Indigenous team working to impact the Indigenous trade of agriculture for the Indigenous should work closely with the largest and oldest Indigenous Bank, right?

Well, that’s one side of my reasoning. There’s a whole other side to why, warts and all, I still recommend that every Ghanaian who loves the motherland operate an account with GCB Bank PLC.  The “Ghana Commercial Bank” of old has evolved into a progressive, customer-centric bank poised to serve every Ghanaian as your Bank for Life. Below is my reasoning; correct me where I am wrong.

BRIEF ECONOMIC HISTORY OF GHANA AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF GCB BANK

Before colonial rule, Ghana’s economy was predominantly agrarian, with agriculture as the pillar of livelihood for the majority of the population. Subsistence farming was the primary mode of agricultural production, with crops such as cocoa, palm oil, rubber, and timber being cultivated for domestic consumption and trade. Indigenous farming practices, including shifting cultivation and communal land tenure systems, shaped the rural economy and social organisation.

During the colonial era, Ghana’s economy underwent significant transformation, driven by exploiting natural resources and establishing cash crop economies. British colonial administrators imposed policies to maximise the extraction of resources, particularly gold, cocoa, and timber, to fuel industrialisation in Britain. The colonial government introduced cash crop cultivation, such as cocoa farming, through coercive measures such as taxation and forced labour, displacing traditional subsistence farming practices.

Under colonial rule, Ghana’s economy became increasingly oriented towards export agriculture, with cocoa emerging as the primary cash crop. Cocoa cultivation expanded rapidly, driven by rising global demand and favourable prices, leading to the establishment of large-scale plantations and the emergence of a commercial farming class. The cocoa industry played a pivotal role in driving economic growth, generating export revenues, and stimulating urbanisation and infrastructure development.

Despite the growth of export agriculture, industrial development in pre-independent Ghana was limited, with the colonial economy remaining predominantly agrarian and extractive. The colonial government prioritised the export of raw materials to Britain, hindering the development of domestic industries and value-added processing. Limited capital investment, technological constraints, and reliance on imported manufactured goods hampered industrialisation efforts within our country.

Ghana’s economy took different paths after independence. The first period, from 1957 to 1966, saw ambitious development plans under Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah’s leadership. These plans focused on industrialisation, infrastructure development, and state-led interventions in agriculture. At the same time, significant projects like the Akosombo Dam and Tema Harbour were initiated.

The then Bank of the Gold Coast, established by the Colonial Master in 1953 to provide banking services to the emerging nation for socio-economic development, was renamed Ghana Commercial Bank after 1957 to focus mainly on commercial banking and provide special attention to Ghanaian traders, business people, and farmers.

GCB BANK’S GROWTH SPURT

GCB was established in the 1950s with only one branch and has since expanded significantly. Today, it boasts over 184 branches, 340 ATMs, and over a dozen agencies spread across all 16 regions of Ghana, serving the entire nation. This growth reflects the bank’s commitment to utilising the potential within each region.

Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB Bank) was initially entirely government-owned. However, in 1996, the government sold off a portion of its shares as part of an economic recovery program.

Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB Bank) has witnessed impressive growth in its workforce. Since its humble beginnings with just 27 employees, the bank is now run by a team comprising thousands of highly qualified professionals. These individuals, with expertise in various disciplines, collaborate effectively to achieve the bank’s goals.

This growth in personnel reflects the bank’s expanding customer base. Initially, GCB primarily served small Ghanaian traders (now known as SMEs) and others who maintained credit balances due to the bank’s limited capital. Over time, the customer profile has diversified significantly. Today, GCB caters to a wider range of clients, including salaried workers, small and medium-sized enterprises, large corporations, quasi-governmental institutions, and corporate customers.

GCB Bank is rated Ghana’s safest bank by Moody’s, Fitch, Standard & Poor’s and the most compliant bank in Africa by the Association for Certified Compliance Professionals in Africa (ACCPA).

Under its mission to provide first-class banking solutions for its customers and value for all stakeholders, GCB Bank prides itself on being Ghana’s most welcoming bank. The bank’s services are structured to serve every facet of the customer’s lifecycle and all types of businesses operating in diverse sectors of the economy, irrespective of size. Given its unrivalled understanding of the Ghanaian economic context, the bank has also developed unique solutions to serve the needs of Ghanaian residents abroad.

GCB Bank provides a wide range of products and services for the benefit of its customers. From the traditional products of the Current/Savings Accounts, GCB now offers specialised products and services, including Link2Home for Ghanaian residents abroad, doorstep cash collection, loans, and overdrafts. There are also investment products like Treasury bills and fixed and call deposits. These are cut to suit the individual needs of customers.

In 2020, GCB Bank made history by launching the industry-first digital mobile money wallet called G-Money. This innovative product stands out for two key features:

Network Independence: Unlike other mobile money wallets, G-Money isn’t tied to a specific telecom company (telco-agnostic). This allows for greater flexibility and wider accessibility.

Seamless Transactions: G-Money offers full interoperability, meaning users can send and receive funds to and from any mobile money wallet or bank account in Ghana as long as both parties are registered.

G-Money boasts additional functionalities like easy access to loans where registered users can conveniently borrow funds through the G-Money platform. It also offers flexible saving options where the wallet allows for both individual and group savings, catering to diverse financial goals.

This launch solidified GCB Bank’s position as a frontrunner in financial innovation and accessibility within Ghana.

Recently, GCB Bank launched another frontier financial technology in the banking industry in Ghana called Recoded Mobile App, which comes with unique features compared to any other banking app on the market and is an outcome of the feedback from customers’ experience using the old app – representing a marked improvement on others. Functions such as the ability to generate certified bank statements for visa applications with any embassy in the country, send and receive money from any card in the world, access loans online and pay bills seamlessly make the app a market leader.

In his remarks at the launch in Accra, the Managing Director of GCB Bank PLC, Kofi Adomakoh, emphasised that this innovation demonstrates the bank’s commitment to providing customer-centric services to all clients and is a testament to its industry leadership.

All these have been done to increase profits and enhance shareholder value. Today, GCB Bank can boast of being the widest networked bank in Ghana.

GENERAL ROLES OF GCB BANK IN GHANA

Financial Inclusion: GCB Bank’s commitment to financial inclusion underscores its mission to ensure that banking services are accessible to all segments of Ghanaian society. This entails initiatives such as extending services to rural areas, offering mobile banking options tailored to the needs of underserved communities, and developing products with lower minimum balances to accommodate individuals with varying income levels. By breaking down barriers to banking access and promoting inclusivity, GCB Bank fosters a more resilient and equitable Ghanaian economy where all citizens can participate in and benefit from financial services.

Economic Development: As a key player in Ghana’s financial landscape, GCB Bank is vital in financing the country’s economic development. The bank catalyses growth, job creation, and innovation through strategic investments in critical sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and infrastructure. Moreover, GCB Bank’s provision of trade finance solutions facilitates international trade, enhancing Ghana’s economic competitiveness and positioning the nation as a dynamic player in the global marketplace. GCB Bank contributes significantly to Ghana’s overall economic advancement and prosperity by channelling resources towards sectors with high growth potential.

Government Banking Partner: GCB Bank’s stature and expertise position it as a trusted partner to the Ghanaian government, playing a crucial role in supporting the country’s financial operations and development agenda. This partnership entails managing government accounts, facilitating tax collection, and participating in government-backed development projects to enhance infrastructure and public services. By collaborating closely with the government, GCB Bank ensures the efficient functioning of financial systems. It contributes to effectively implementing national policies and programs, ultimately fostering economic stability and growth.

Stability and Trust: With a rich history and deep-rooted understanding of the Ghanaian market, GCB Bank embodies stability and trust within the financial sector. Its longstanding presence and reputation for reliability instil confidence among customers, encouraging them to save, invest, and engage in financial transactions with assurance. Haircut or no haircut, GCB stands as a beacon of stability, as demonstrated recently. GCB Bank contributes to maintaining the integrity of the banking system and bolsters public trust while reinforcing Ghana’s overall financial resilience.

Promoting Financial Literacy: Recognising the importance of financial education in empowering individuals and driving economic progress, GCB Bank actively promotes financial literacy initiatives. Through workshops, community outreach programs, informational materials, and sponsorship programs like the ‘Entrepreneur In You’ (EiU) initiative, the bank equips Ghanaians with the knowledge and skills to make informed financial decisions. A recent forum from the EiU was themed, “The impact of financial literacy in post-retirement financial security”, venued at the British Council Accra and attended by dozens of industry stakeholders. By fostering a culture of financial literacy, GCB Bank empowers individuals to manage their finances effectively, plan for the future, and participate more actively in the economy, ultimately contributing to the nation’s overall prosperity and well-being.

ROLE OF GCB BANK IN THE GHANAIAN BUSINESS LANDSCAPE

With a history of circa six decades dedicated to fostering and backing business expansion within Ghana, there is no superior banking institution nationwide to entrust your significant financial matters. Irrespective of your scale – whether you’re a burgeoning startup, a sole proprietor, an enterprising entrepreneur, a small to medium-sized enterprise, or a sizable national or international corporation – GCB Bank possesses the expertise, comprehension, and an array of products and services requisite to address your requirements.

GCB Bank has emerged as a reliable supporter of Ghanaian businesses, exhibiting a steadfast commitment to fostering economic prosperity and development within the country. The bank’s strategic approach revolves around delivering tailored financial solutions that cater to the unique requirements of local entrepreneurs, farmers, and industries. This customer-centric approach underscores GCB Bank’s recognition of the diverse needs and challenges Ghanaian businesses face, positioning itself as a trusted financial partner in their growth journey.

GCB Bank’s impact extends beyond mere financial transactions, as evidenced by its substantial investments across various sectors that are pivotal to Ghana’s development trajectory. These investments span critical industries such as oil and gas, cocoa, mining, manufacturing, and commerce, reflecting the bank’s strategic foresight in aligning its resources with the nation’s economic priorities. By channelling capital into these critical sectors, GCB Bank plays a pivotal role in stimulating economic activity, fostering innovation, and driving sustainable growth. 

Additionally, the bank provides a comprehensive suite of offerings expected from a reliable financial partner, encompassing an array of products and services such as international money transfers, overdraft facilities, bulk cash handling, trade finance, payroll management solutions, business advisory services,  internet banking, and more. GCB Bank firmly believes that strong business foundations are rooted in robust relationships, and hence, they dedicate time to acquaint themselves with you and your enterprise, aiming to forge enduring and mutually beneficial alliances.

WHY IT IS WORTH HAVING A GCB BANK ACCOUNT

Supporting Ghanaian Businesses: GCB Bank’s commitment to prioritising Ghanaian businesses is deeply ingrained in its long-standing history. Over the years, the bank has demonstrated a keen understanding of the local economic landscape, recognising the unique challenges and opportunities Ghanaian entrepreneurs, farmers, and industries face. This understanding has led to the development of tailored products and services specifically designed to address the needs of domestic businesses, thereby fostering their growth and sustainability. By choosing GCB Bank, individuals and companies contribute directly to the advancement of Ghana’s economy, as their money remains within the country, circulating and fuelling the expansion of local enterprises.

Deep Understanding of Ghana: As Ghana’s oldest AND largest indigenous bank, GCB Bank boasts an unparalleled depth of insight into the intricacies of the Ghanaian economic climate, cultural dynamics, and regulatory framework. This intimate familiarity enables the bank to adapt and tailor its services and products with precision, catering to the specific requirements of the Ghanaian market more effectively than some foreign banks. By leveraging its extensive experience and local knowledge, GCB Bank can provide a level of personalised service and support that resonates deeply with Ghanaian businesses and individuals.

Investment in Ghana’s Future: GCB Bank’s commitment to Ghana’s development extends beyond its core banking activities. The bank actively engages in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, channelling resources towards areas vital to the nation’s progress, such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure development. By aligning its CSR efforts with Ghana’s developmental goals, GCB Bank demonstrates its dedication to making a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of Ghanaians. By banking with GCB, individuals and businesses align themselves with an institution that is deeply invested in driving positive change and progress across the country.

Nationally Focused Branch Network: One of GCB Bank’s key strengths lies in its extensive branch network, which spans across Ghana. This widespread presence ensures that Ghanaians have greater accessibility to banking services, with branches conveniently located in communities throughout the country. Compared to some foreign banks, GCB Bank’s nationally focused branch network offers individuals and businesses the convenience of accessing banking services closer to their homes or places of business, facilitating smoother and more efficient banking experiences for all within Ghana.

MY POINT IS…

GCB Bank stands as a cornerstone of Ghana’s financial landscape, playing a pivotal role in the lives of Ghanaians across the nation. As an indigenous bank with a rich history spanning decades, GCB Bank has ingrained itself deeply into the fabric of Ghanaian society, serving as a trusted partner and catalyst for progress. Through its unwavering commitment to supporting Ghanaian businesses, understanding the intricacies of the local economic climate, and investing in the country’s future, GCB Bank has become synonymous with reliability, stability, and growth.

The bank’s dedication to prioritising Ghanaian businesses is evident in its tailored products and services designed to meet entrepreneurs, farmers, and industries’ unique needs. By empowering local businesses to thrive, GCB Bank drives economic growth and fosters job creation and prosperity within communities across the country. Moreover, as Ghana’s oldest indigenous bank, GCB Bank possesses a deep understanding of the nation’s economic landscape, cultural nuances, and regulatory framework, enabling it to provide personalised services that resonate with the needs of Ghanaian customers.

Furthermore, GCB Bank’s commitment to Ghana’s development extends beyond banking services, as evidenced by its active participation in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. By investing in education, healthcare, and infrastructure development, GCB Bank demonstrates its dedication to improving the quality of life for Ghanaians and driving positive change in society.

In essence, GCB Bank is more than just a financial institution; it is a pillar of support, and I find it a national pride. Through its nationally focused branch network and comprehensive range of banking services, GCB Bank plays an indispensable role in the lives of Ghanaians, providing accessibility, convenience, and stability in an ever-changing economic landscape. As Ghana continues on its path of progress and development, I stand by my decision to always point to GCB Bank as the financial institution of choice as they remain steadfast in their commitment to serving as a trusted partner to every Ghanaian and a driving force for positive change in the lives of all Ghanaians, now and for life. Again, please correct me where I am wrong.

I hope you found this article insightful and enjoyable. Your feedback is highly valued and appreciated. I welcome your suggestions for topics you want me to address or provide insights on. You can schedule a meeting with me at your convenience through my Calendly at calendly.com/maxwellampong. Alternatively, you may connect with me through various channels on my Linktree page at https://linktr.ee/themax.

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