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Co-op targets 3 branches a month in 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – As it continues with its quest to capture a larger share of the market, Co-operative Bank of Kenya has disclosed plans to open at least three new branches every month in 2012.

Co-op Bank Group Managing Director Gideon Muriuki said this strategy will bring their total outlets to over 120 by close of the year.

“The additional over 35 branches are in various stages of development and construction,” the MD said of their aggressive branch and network expansion strategy.

The bank has embarked on the implementation of this program with the opening of four new branches in the last three weeks.

The opening of the Changamwe, Oyugis, Githurai and Eldoret outlets brings the total number of Coop Bank branches across the country to 96 as it seeks to widen its customer base which stood at over 2.5million by the close of year 2011.

Co-operative Bank has maintained a strong presence in so called down market areas many banks considered out-of-bounds. It was the first financial institution to open a branch in Kibera, Kawangware and Githurai areas of Nairobi that are widely associated with lower income groups.

This will complement their agency banking model which has seen the bank engage nearly 2, 000 ‘Co-op Kwa Jirani’ agents in various parts of the country as a way of not only bringing the services closer to the people but also enhancing their service delivery.

“We are currently running an education campaign to facilitate the customer usage of the agents. The branch expansion campaign is also meant to facilitate the agents serve their customers better,” Muriuki emphasised.

The agency banking model is a relatively new model but Co-operative Bank has taken leadership in this area through putting in place several programs to provide more services to its customers.

He hailed the model which increases the accessibility of financial products and services to Kenyans in remote areas and observed that it is ‘more than any other development in banking in Kenya’ as it is set to revolutionise the financial sector.

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Muriuki said they are also banking on the Front Office Service Activities (FOSAs), which are run by Co-operative societies to provide financial services to Kenyans in the areas where Saccos have a strong footprint.

“The bank has appointed over 300 Saccos in all counties to sell banking services,” he stated.

Currently the agents are doing over 20,000 transactions per day the bulk of them being deposits. This is in addition to millions of transaction taking place in the over 450 ATMs across the country, the VISA point of sale network all over the world and the branch network.

The projects are being undertaken despite the probability of 2012 being an election, in what Muriuki remarked is a sign of confidence in the economy.

“Our confidence in the people of this country tells us that the elections will come and go and Kenyans will be left here to develop our country. The multi-million expansion investment the bank is doing is a clear demonstration of our faith in our country as a bank predominantly owned by the 10 million member co-operative movement,” he asserted.

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