Modernizing Banking in Sierra Leone through Branchless Banking and Digital Wallet Solutions
Updated: Jun 29
Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) is the largest commercial bank in Sierra Leone. Founded in 1973, SLCB is headquartered in the country’s capital, Freetown with a network of over 100 branches throughout the country. With its main vision to become the market leader in financial services, SLCB spearheaded the 2017 National Strategy of Financial Inclusion together with Sierra Leone’s government to address the 87% of the country’s unbanked population.
The traditional way of conducting banking transactions has posed some challenges for both SLCB and its customers. On the customers’ side, traveling to a bank can prove costly and time-consuming, especially for those who live far away from a bank branch. Aside from it being an inconvenience to go to a bank branch, it was also dangerous for them because of the high crime rates in the region, making it unsafe to carry cash with them.
On the bank’s side, due to the widespread of small communities in low-density remote areas in Sierra Leone, setting up brick-and-mortar banks throughout the region was costly to build and maintain. It was not a cost-effective and sustainable solution in reaching majority of the population.
Goals of the Project
SLCB wanted both their customers and bank staff to experience convenience through instant and seamless transactions.
SLCB needed a cost-effective way of making banking available at remote locations possible so people living in far-flung areas can become financially included.
SLCB wanted to retain their customers and acquire new customers through better customer service levels, increased customer touch points, and greater customer satisfaction.
Genie Branch makes it possible for a bank to extend their reach to their customers through branchless banking by allowing the bank to open small outlets or kiosks in remote areas as well as extending it services through rep-assisted or agent services. Genie-Branch provided features and functionality including Customer Onboarding, Cash Deposit & Withdrawal, Check Deposit & Withdrawal, Checkbook and Statement Requests, Loan Payments, Transfers & Overseas Payments, and Balance Inquiry & Mini Statements.
Genie Wallet, on the other hand, facilitates payment options through NFC-based payment, QR codes, RFID, and loyalty programs funded through the customers’ bank accounts. With Genie-Wallet, customers can Add, Send, and Request Money, Split the Bill, and Cash In and Out.
By working closely with SLCB, Bank-Genie was able to address the challenges faced by both the customer and the bank with a team of three within the time frame of 6 months for Genie-Branch and 4 months for Genie-Wallet.
What’s in it for clients?
Pay and Transact Anytime and Anywhere
No More Queuing at Banks
No Need to Travel to a Bank for Transactions
Easy Access to Bank Accounts
SLCB became the first bank to install kiosks across Sierra Leone’s capital. The kiosks enabled the bank to save on capital expenditure and ATM machine-related costs as these outlets functioned as ATM centers and provided all of the services a retail branch offers. SLCB and Bank-Genie also partnered with Sierra Leone’s largest hospital to allow the hospital’s cash transactions to be recorded in real-time using Point-of-Sale (POS) devices placed throughout the hospital grounds.
There was great acceptance of Genie-Branch and Genie-Wallet as both the bank and the customers realized the benefits of these two solutions. Customers benefited from numerous and secure payment options through their digital wallet and from rep-assisted banking services that brought banking to their doorstep. SLCB, on the other hand, was able to extend its reach to the unbanked population and increase transaction volumes.
Through Bank-Genie’s solutions, SLCB’s journey into digitization resulted in a seamless on-time delivery and plug-and-play capability. The bank also furthered its financial inclusion plans in the country — rightly tying in with the initiative they spearheaded with the government of Sierra Leone.
What’s in it for the bank?
Fulfillment cycles for bank transactions are shorter and much easier to accomplish.
Foot traffic within bank branches is reduced, so overcrowding will be less of a problem as certain transactions can be conducted simply with a mobile device.
By going digital, SLCB can reduce costs because remote banking is much cheaper to maintain than a brick-and-mortar bank setup.
Bank-Genie Pte. Ltd, is a Singapore-based company incorporated in 2016.
The company is funded by two large global institutions – The SBI Holdings Group, a leading internet-based financial services conglomerate in Japan and FMO, the Dutch development bank in 2017.
The company was founded by an interesting combination of a serial entrepreneur and a young technology professional who has won several awards and backed by strong Advisory Board and a management team of experienced banking, finance IT professionals who have over 100 years of combined work experience.
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