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A Case Study Of The Ghana Commercial Bank Finance Essay

Introduction

This chapter presents the results and analysis of major findings from the study. The chapter is organised into two sections. The first section presents summary of the major findings from the study and the second section presents an analysis of the major findings.

History of Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) Ltd

Ghana Commercial Bank Ltd was incorporated as a bank of the Gold Coast in 1953 to provide banking services to the emerging nation for socio-economic development. It was to provide financial services to indigenous traders, businesses and farmers who could not elicit support from foreign banks that existed at the time. The bank was renamed Ghana Commercial bank to focus solely on commercial banking services after independence in 1957 when the name of the country was changed from Gold Coast to Ghana.

The bank was wholly government owned until 1996 when part of the government ownership was divested under the Economic recovery programme (ERP). Institutional and individual holdings account for 78.64% and the remaining being Ghana government holdings.

GCB has branches in all the 10 regions of the country and as at the end of 2007, the bank had 135 branches and 10 agencies distributed nationwide as follows; Greater Accra – 29, Central Region – 12, Ashanti Region – 23, Brong Ahafo – 14, Northern Region – 8, Upper East – 3, Upper West – 3, Eastern Region – 18, Volta Region – 14, and Western Region – 14.

In 2007, the bank completed its preparatory and IT infrastructure installation program and successfully connected 136 branches and 11 agencies on its new Flexcube Wide Area Network. This new e-banking suite replaces the existing Commernet and Fundsnet system used to service its international money transfer business. The e-banking suite will also facilitate the development of new range of products, services and payment systems such as SmartPay to facilitate bills payments and school fees collection for schools, colleges and tertiary institutions in the country.

The bank has broad customer base that ranges from salaried workers through small and medium scale entrepreneurs (SMEs) to large trading concerns, quasi-governmental institutions and corporate individuals. In 2007, the total number of accounts held by the various customers stood at 1,201,309 with more than 90% being active. That is, a transaction is operated on the account at least once each month.

GCB Mission Statement

The mission statement of the bank is “to be the established leader in banking, satisfying expectations of customers and shareholders, providing a full range of cost efficient and high quality services, through the optimisation of information technology and efficient branch network”.

For the achievement of this objective, the bank is committed to:

The provision of first class customer service

Focusing on our core business competencies – banking

Constant improvement in the use of information technology

Ensuring that staff are well motivated and have a conducive work environment

Recruiting and retaining the best human resources to carry out the bank’s mandate

Applying the best practices in internal policies, procedures, processes and service delivery

Constant improvement in shareholder value.

GCB Products Profile

The bank provides a wide range of products and services to the general public. These products and services are categorised as follows; personal banking, Small and Medium Scale (SME) Banking, Corporate Services, Investment Services, and Money Transfer services.

Personal Banking

The bank offers the following products and services under the personal banking umbrella.

Current Account

This product is targeted towards individual customers, societies, enterprises and corporate bodies. This account offers benefits that includes;

Convenient access to cash using cheques    

Easier and faster way to make payments    

Faster access to cash using Readycash (ATM) card

No Balance restriction    

Access to immediate mini-statement through ATM    

Balances over GH¢100.00 attracts interest

Savings Account

This product targets customers who want to accumulate funds in a safe place and at the same time generate income from interest payments on amount saved. This product has the following features:

Interest is paid on accounts with balances over GH¢50.00

Offers attractive interest rates    

Interest is accrued daily and applied monthly    

Convenience of accessing your account from any GCB Branch nationwide    

Easy access to Readycash (ATM Card) with its associated benefits

Flexsave Account

This is a more flexible saving account with a low minimum account balance requirements. This account has the following benefits;

The account can be linked to the Bank’s ReadyCash ATM for access to funds at any time.

Flexibility in making up to 20 withdrawals in a month

Account can be accessed at any branch nationwide

Competitive interest payments on balances on account

The possibility of accessing loan facilities

Save and Prosper Account

This product is specially designed to target salaried workers who want to set aside part of their regular income as savings. A fixed amount is saved by the account holder on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Account holders can apply for a loan facility provided they have saved consistently for a minimum of six months without any withdrawals. The loan amount is determined based on amount saved over the period. Also savings on account can be used as collateral or for partial payment of amount borrowed

Kudi Nkosuo Account

Kudi Nkosuo is a hybrid of savings and credit account designed to target the informal sector of Ghana. It is aimed at encouraging savings habit among petty traders and the self-employed. Account holders can apply for a loan facility to invest in their business.

A fixed amount (determined by the customer) is paid in to the account on regular basis. To qualify for a loan, the account holder must have saved consistently for six month without any withdrawals. For the purposes of reconciliation, a passbook is issued to the account holder whiles the bank also maintains a copy.

Link 2 Home

This is an innovative account designed to specifically target Ghanaians living abroad who want to operant a bank account or invest back home whiles still living outside the country.

Overdrafts and Loans

Overdrafts and loans are credit facilities that the bank provides to customers who require additional funds which are repayable over agreed period of time. The following options are available to prospective customers;

Overdraft facility: This is a short-term loan facility offered to sole proprietors, partnerships and companies to boost working capital.

Personal Credit Line: this is an overdraft facility targeted at high net worth individuals whose salaries are paid through their account at GCB

Short Term Loan: this is a credit facility provided to a customer over a specified period of time usually 12 months payable by monthly equal instalments.

Medium Term Loan: This is another credit facility which monies advanced to customers are paid over a period of between three to five years with negotiable repayment terms.

Personal Loans: There are two types; consumer loans and Auto loans. They are target to salaried workers. The loan amount is 30% of the monthly salary multiplied by number of repayments months. Consumer loans are repayable in 6-36 months whiles auto loans are repayable in 36-60 months. Repayment of the loan is on reducing balance basis and no more than 40% of monthly salary is deducted to service the loan repayments.

Consumer Credit Scheme (CCS): This is a credit facility offered to salaried workers to acquire household items. Repayment of the loan is by monthly instalments between 6-18 months.

ReadyCash ATM

ReadyCash ATM is a network of Automated Teller Machines located nationwide to provide customers with basic banking services conveniently 24/7. Customers with ReadyCash ATM smart card are able to access the following banking services without going to the banking hall;

Cash withdrawal up to GH¢200 per day

Check account balance

Print mini statement

ReadyCash ATM facility is available to current account and savings account holders.

GCB Xpress Money Transfer

This is an electronic money transfer and payment system aimed at attracting traders who travel long distances within the country with cash to buy and sell. The service is restricted to Ghana.

SME Banking

GCB provides a range of attractive and robust financial product and services to support small and medium scale businesses such as Sole Proprietorships, Limited Liability Companies, Clubs, Associations, Non-Governmental Organisations, Schools and Societies in the country. Products and services offered to SMEs include the following;

Short to medium term loans and overdraft facilities

Management and staff loans (i.e. corporate bodies)

Guarantees and bonds

Corporate Banking

The corporate banking products and services are tailored to meet the needs of corporate organisations operating in a variety of markets and sectors in the Ghanaian economy. There are requirements to determine the eligibility to operate a corporate account. They include minimum turnover of GH¢100,000 and/or minimum Exposure of GH¢50,000.

International Trade Finance

GCB’s International Trade Finance Division (ITFD) provides advisory services and assistance to clients in the import and export trade. Services available to importers include:

Bills for Collection: A fast and efficient means of settling trade bills. Payment is made against presentation of shipping documents to GCB by overseas suppliers.

Letter of Credit: The bank can provide a written undertaken to overseas suppliers on behalf of clients through their bankers to pay an agreed amount of money within a specified time provided the beneficiary presents documents as required by the letter of credit.

Foreign Exchange: The bank offers foreign exchange at competitive rates for settlement of Trade bills.

Guarantee: the bank offers guarantees to clients to reduce the risk of non-performance by exporters.

Also subject to compliance with credit requirements, the bank provides the following services to exporters;

Pre-Export Finance: The bank provides funds to clients against an Export Letter of Credit to enable clients meet their export order requirements

Post-Shipment Finance: The bank provides funds in advance against payments due at a future date at clients request subject to meeting requirements.

International Services

GCB offers the following international banking services

Forex Account: this is a foreign exchange account domiciled in Ghana. This product is aimed at clients who transact business in foreign currencies locally. Customers can pay-in locally or transfer fund from overseas in to the account.

Foreign Account: this account can only be operated by direct overseas inward funds transfer or offshore funds and can be operated by both residents and non-residents in the country. Account holders cannot pay-in with foreign currencies purchased locally. Overseas payments can also be made from the account without exchange controls.

Money Transfer: Inward and outward remittances are undertaken on behalf of both customers and non-customers in all the major foreign currencies. With large network of branches, the bank is able to provide fast inward foreign remittance services to beneficiaries nationwide in collaboration with correspondent banks and agents worldwide such as MoneyGram and Unity Link.

Profile of Respondents

In all 250 questionnaire were administered and 205 was received. Hence 198 was actually analysed for this study. The overall response rate was 82% and the response rate for each group is shown in the table 1.

Table 1: Response Rate

Survey

Number of Questionnaire sent

Reponses Received

Response rate

Branch Managers

50

42

84%

Customers

146

108

74%

Key I.T Staff

54

48

89%

The responses received indicated that the bank has a customer base from a cross-section of the population of Ghana with wide-ranging occupational background. The table 2 below depicts the broad customer groups and their responses. Figure 1 shows the profile of customers and their response rate.

Table 2: Customer Responses

Type of Customer

Total Responses

Percentage Rate

Corporate

4

4%

Salaried Workers

42

39%

Self-employed Workers

38

35%

Students

24

22%

Figure 1: Customer Responses

Customers reasons for Banking with GCB

The study indicated that customers operate an account with the bank for varying reasons. Some of the reasons identified in this study are shown in the table 3.

Type of account

Safe keeping

Loan access

Interest on account

Channel salary

Savings account

27%

11%

56%

6%

Current Account

5%

36%

7%

52%

Foreign Account

100%

-

-

-

Kudi Nkosuo

-

56%

41%

3%

Save & Prosper

16%

32%

46%

8%

Table 3: Customer Reasons for banking with GCB

Table 3 shows that 56% of the customers operate a saving account and their principal aim is to earn interest which is in contrast with foreign account customers whose aim is to keep their funds in a safe place. Current account holders are mainly salaried workers whiles Kudi Nkosuo and Save & Prosper account holders are mainly the self-employed and students who aim is to earn interest as well as being able to obtain loan. Corporate customers operate mainly current account in order to quickly undertake various transactions including payment of employees’ wages and salaries payments. Foreign currency accounts are operated mainly for safekeeping of funds because this type of account attracts little or no interest. This according to one senior manager is to discourage citizens converting their funds into foreign currencies.

Customer Awareness and usage of GCB Network Services (Electronic Banking)

From the study, nearly all the respondents are aware of the bank’s electronic banking services. Figure 2 below shows the proportion of respondents who are aware of the electronic banking services offered by GCB. The study shows that 96% of the customers are aware of the existence of the bank’s electronic banking services.

Figure 2: Customer awareness of GCB internet banking services

GCB electronic banking offers their customers virtually all the services that are on offer in branches nationwide. Additionally, electronic banking offer customers’ value added services for example the convenience of accessing one’s bank account from any location where there is access to a computer and internet. Other value added services available to customers electronically include funds transfer, bill payment, and loan application, downloading of account transaction information and investment activity. Thus banking around the clock is no longer a remote possibility.

Again from the study, almost all the respondents have accessed their bank account electronically at least once using the bank’s proprietary ReadyCash ATM card. Those who access their bank account at least once in a month via ReadyCash ATM machine constitute 98%. However, a small number, 9% of respondents regularly access their account using CommernetPlus internet banking.

Figure 3: Usage of internet banking services

Results indicated that customers are aware of the new products and services on offer by GCB. However, the level of patronage is low. The exception was the use of ReadyCash ATM services. Reasons for low patronage of other electronic services can be attributed to a number of factors. The high cost of acquiring computer systems and the cost of subscribing internet access by customers. Another factor is the level of computer literacy. Results indicated that users of GCB CommernetPlus internet banking services are more likely to be students and workers. The 9% usage rate depicted in figure 3 confirms this fact. Again despite the huge investment in networking technology, customers still visit the bank premises in large numbers to perform simple tasks that can easily be done online. Hence instead of closing down some branches, more branches are being added to cater for the influx of customers to the bank’s premises. This is in direct contrast with the developed world where the deployment of networking technology has led to close down of some high street branches and reduction in staff numbers

Findings on GCB Strategy

The corporate mission of GCB is “To be the established leader in banking, satisfying the expectations of customers and shareholders, providing full range of cost efficient and high quality services, through the optimisation of information technology and efficient branch network”. According to one senior manager, successful deployment of efficient enterprise wide ICT and branch networking is key to achieving the bank’s overall long term goal. This study concentrated on three areas of the bank’s strategic intent. These are discussed below.

Value Added Creation

Senior managers, branch managers and key I.T staff were asked whether the deployment of ICT in GCB has created any value added for customers and how? It became evident from their responses that creation of value added services to their customers was one of the goals of embarking on companywide networking programme. 100% of senior managers, 95% of branch managers and 98% of key I.T staff agreed that the banks network infrastructure has created value for customers. Managers agreed that the average time customers spend at the till has shortened due to good network infrastructure as well as customers’ ability to access their account from any branch of the bank nationwide. It is also quicker to process business and bulky transactions. A small proportion of the staff respondents said the networking infrastructure did not create any value added for customers.

Customers’ responses to the general service quality provided by the GCB indicated that few of them were dissatisfied with the services. 52% said it was good, 31% said it was very good, 13% said it was fair, 1% said it was excellent and 3% said it was poor. Generally customers agreed that their banking service has improved. According to one customer he does not need to carry large sums of money on his business trips, as he can access his account from any branch of the bank at his destination. Most student customers also indicated that they access their account from any ATM machine; also provided there have internet access, they also check their balances and account statements. All of these are as direct result of the deployment of the networking infrastructure. Overall, the bank’s customers are satisfied with the service quality provided by the bank. Figure 4 below show customer satisfaction to GCB services provision.

Table 4: Customers rating of GCB service level

Efficiency Strategy

One senior manager argued that the use of WAN infrastructure and FlexCube banking application suite is the most cost effective way of serving customers better. “ Thousands of customers can be served at the same time irrespective of their location without the need of additional human resource such as tellers and other branch staff” according to him. The overall consensus of the branch managers and key IT staff who took part in this study was that the administrative and back office work has reduced drastically with the introduction of electronic banking.

Expenditure on items such as paper clips, forms and other bank stationary has also reduced significantly. Responses also indicate that the network infrastructure provides fast inter-branch transactions eliminating the problems of distance and time. The bank has also implemented inter branch telephone communication within 28 of the bank’s branches using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) over the existing network infrastructure. Management plans to extend this facility to all branches and is expected to reduce communication cost significantly.

The addition of GCB CommernetPlus, its internet banking suite in 2008 provided further boost to its online services provision. Customers can view their bank account balances online in real-time, transfer money, order cheque books, and pay bills such as school fees.

Pension payment system (PPS) is another system that has been developed to eliminate the drudgery involved in the pension payments by the bank’s branches nationwide.

Another major development in the bank’s efficiency drive resulting from the implementation of networking is efficient and effective internal control. The bank’s inspection division is linked to the branch network enabling inspectors to have unrestricted access to branch operations. This means that off-site inspection can be done by inspectors at any time the need arises reducing the risk of fraud and irregularities in the bank. This also reduces travelling allowances and expenses paid to inspectors to go round the numerous bank branches. These efficiency initiatives have resulted in the recent excellent financial results as shown in figure 5.

Performance of GCB

The extensive use of IT infrastructure and banking application software in its operations over the recent past is gradually achieving the desired aim of increasing the income generating performance of the bank. The increase in profit in recent years is as result of increased customer base and general economic growth. But the ICT infrastructure has played a major part in all of these. For instance, efficiency levels across board have increased due to ICT. Customer base has increase which is supported by the ability to deal with customers request quickly and efficiently.

Again, all latest products and services introduced recently are IT based enabling the bank to increase its market share. According to one senior manager in the marketing department, the development of new IT based products and services such as Link2Home, SmartPay, MasterCard, E-zwich, SWIFT and International Money Transfer as part of a wider deposit mobilisation drive has resulted in an increase in total deposits from GH¢1,030.1 million in 2008 to GH¢1,259.5 million in 2009 representing an increase of GH¢229.4 million or 22.3% (GCB Annual Report, 2009).

The performance data in figure 5 confirms the responses of branch managers who took part in this study. 100% of respondents said there has been an increase in individual branch profit performance. However, all the branch managers declined to provide branch performance data on record for this study. 86% attribute their branch recent better performance to the deployment of network infrastructure which has enabled the bank to offer new products and services tailored to meet customers changing needs. Additionally, branch workload and turnaround times have reduced drastically.

Figure: 5

Source: GCB Annual Report 2009

New Products Development

According to one senior manager interviewed, GCB electronic banking centre was established in 2008 to manage the bank’s electronic banking products and services and to further develop new ones in future. Since launching its flagship internet banking suite, the bank has successfully added new products and services to its existing portfolio. They include SmartPay, International Money Transfer, Master Card Debit, Visa Debit and CommernetPlus internet banking. In addition to its proprietary ReadyCash ATM which was launched in 2001.

CommernetPlus, GCB’s version of internet banking was launched in 2008. CommernetPlus allows users to undertake various transactions online in real-time eliminating the need to visit the bank’s premises. Services offered by CommernetPlus include viewing account balances, money transfer order cheque books, bill payment and downloading of account transactions.

The MasterCard Debit and Visa Card Debit card would enable users to use them with any ATM machine that displays these cards logo anywhere in the world. The international money transfer service also allows customers to receive inward foreign currency transfer in local currency. Customers can receive funds countries where the bank has agents and correspondent banks. Currently customers can receive funds transfer from countries such as UK, USA, Canada, and Italy.

The Impact of Networking on GCB Operations

Findings also indicated that deployment of networking technology has radically changed the work processes involved in banking from manual record taking and storage to computerised data capture and storage.

Secondly all the bank branches are linked together using computer networking technology hence all branches on the network can “talk to each other” easily and quickly. This speed up operational activities such as inter branch accounts transaction, account reconciliation and cheques clearing, whiles reducing fraudulent activities such as suppression of cheques and debit notes on accounts.

Monitoring and control has improved dramatically. The banks inspection department staff can remotely access any branch accounts for inspection. The time taken to inspect branch activities has also reduced hence; more checks can now be performed.

Finally, expenditure on office stationary has reduced significantly with the deployment of this technology. Information is now captured and stored electronically therefore the bank requires less stationary to record and store information.

Problems of using Electronic Banking Services

In addition to the potential problems of using electronic banking identified in the literature review, there are other problems identified in the study.

Frequent power cuts is another major problem affecting the proper functioning and patronage of electronic banking in Ghana. Responses from managers, IT staff and customers confirm the fact that frequent power cuts which sometimes last for days affects the proper functioning and reliability of the bank’s networks as well as frequent breakdown and malfunctioning of equipment especially offsite ATM machines.

Customers generally perceive electronic banking in Ghana as unreliable but indicated that lack of personal computers and internet access was the main reason why they do not use internet banking services. Also they indicated that, frequent power cuts and security were other reasons why internet banking is not used. Hence despite the perceived value added created, customers’ confidence in network banking is low as shown in figure 6.

Figure: 6

Another factor affecting electronic banking patronage in Ghana is illiteracy. Significant proportion of the population is computer illiterate. As a result, the bank has to open new branches to accommodate the growing number of customers despite the huge sums spent in the deployment of electronic banking. From the study, the proportion of customer respondents who use other electronic banking services apart from ReadyCash ATM is 23%. This explains the comment by one senior manager that most branches experience overcrowding in the banking premises although most of the routine account transactions such as account balance enquires, bills payment and money transfers can easily be done online.

Chapter Summary

This chapter presented the results and analysis of this study. The analysis centred on the objectives of this research study. The findings indicated that the deployment of network technology has greatly improved the performance of the bank in several ways including the re-engineering of the banks’ work processes, strengthened management ability to monitor and control branch operations and the overall customer experience with the bank.

However, customer patronage of the resultant product and services very low which suggest that management of GCB seriously look at ways to improve the take-up of the banks network services.

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