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Barclays Bank Kenya looking at growing alternate channels after branch closures

Barclays Bank Kenya Chief Executive Jeremy Awori/FRANCIS MBATHA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 5 – Barclays Bank of Kenya (BBK) now targets alternate channels to grow revenue.

Speaking to Capital FM Business Chief Executive Jeremy Awori says the bank will expand its agency network to 6,000 throughout the country in the next two to three years.

This is in response to changing trends where 7 out of 10 BBK customers prefer using alternate channels for transactions such as mobile apps, online and agents.

“We have been investing a lot in technology and alternate channels driven by customer needs. We are looking at increased digital, online, mobile, and agency, as you have seen we are the first international bank to launch agency banking,” Awori told Capital FM Business.

The move comes even as the bank announced the closure of branches that include Moi Avenue Branch, Haile Selassie Branch, Waiyaki way Branch, Kawangware Branch, Ruhimtulla Branch, Nakumatt Meru Branch and Wundanyi Branch in Voi.

“You cannot keep resources in a channel that is being used less. We saw there were areas of overlap where we had branches a few hundred meters from other branches, we felt that there is an opportunity for efficiency,” he noted adding that no employee will lose their jobs.

Awori says all employees in affected branches will be channeled to other branches and capacities in the bank.

This is amidst a Voluntary Early Retirement that was announced last month targeting about 130 employees.

Going forward, the firm plans to heavily invest in technology in a bid to compete with the shift in customer needs.

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“I see significant opportunities around mobile and internet banking space as well as alternate channels space,” he said.

Already, top-tier banks have heavily invested in alternative channels that have seen over 90 percent of transactions for both KCB Group and Equity Group being handled by alternatives channels, that brings the question, is it Barclays investing too late?

Standard Investment Bank Research analyst is of the view that the investment is timely.

“You see, for Barclays, their main reason for investment in the alternative channels is to retain their customers and make it convenient for them, we don’t expect them everywhere,” says SIB Head of Research Francis Mwangi.

He says the Interest Rates Capping law, as well as technology, will see more branch closures going forward.

Cytonn Investments Head of Finance Maurice Oduor says banks are leveraging on technology to stay competitive in a dynamic and challenging environment.

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