By Jackie Asasira
Brac Uganda Bank has signed a contract with a Bulgarian international technology company,Software Group, to acquire its agency banking solution, as part of the bank’s plans to extend its outreach to under-served areas through agency banking, The Infrastructure Magazine has learnt.
Through the deal, Brac Uganda Bank will tap into the Bulgarian outfit’s global agency banking technology to provide convenient digital financial services and to bring them closer to their customers.
Brac Uganda was founded in 2006 as a tier IV credit institution to reach financially underserved communities as part of the NGO, Brac Uganda. Over the years, it has mobilised especially low income women to improve their credit and savings standing. In March 2019, Brac Uganda received a tier II commercial institutions license which allows it to operate as a commercial bank supervised by the Bank of Uganda. Today, Brac Uganda Bank boasts an asset book value of US$56 million (Ushs200 billion).
This Magazine understands that under the deal, the contract service will go live sometime this year (2021), effectively bringing the bank’s 163 branches and 131 satellites offices into one network, but also accessible through banking agents.
Software Group ,started in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, just over 10 years ago, has grown to a leading global technology company that specializes in digitalization and integration solutions for institutions that provide financial services.
They focus on supporting financial service providers to go through especially the process of digital transformation, with a sound experience of deploying inclusive platforms and technologies.
Software Group said the technology they are providing Brac Uganda Bank will make the Ugandan bank’s services, “available outside of normal office hours and close to where their customers are, providing greater convenience, boosting trust during the COVID era by reducing in-branch congestion, and mobilizing customer deposits while at the same time reducing operational costs.”
They said, it will also enable Brac Uganda Bank to “scale its points of sale rapidly without investing in costly branch and ATM networks, as part of its financial inclusion agenda to engage with a wider customer base.”
William Mawejje, the deputy chief executive officer and chief operating officer of Brac Uganda Bank said,“We are delighted to partner with Software Group and leverage their market-leading Agency Banking Solution with financial support from World Saving and Retail Bank Institute (WSBI). Delivering financial services to 84 districts and over 200,000 microfinance members via our agent network helps save lives, to stop the spread of COVID and supports our sustainable development goals in Uganda.”
Craig Albertson, Software Group’s business development director for Anglophone Africa, on his part, said, “We are proud to partner with Brac Uganda Bank Ltd. in achieving their ambitious outreach goals and significantly enhancing their customer experience. Moreover, utilizing digital solutions such as Agency Banking plays an essential role in preventing the spread of COVID-19, as it will avoid the need for the bank’s customers to queue in branch offices and help them manage social distancing.”
Agency banking is one of the fastest growing digital financial channels in Africa allowing banks, through third party vendors such as shops or roadside kiosks, to offer digital banking products and services – including phone top ups and payment of bills outside traditional banks.
According to Brac Uganda Bank, digital transformation will not only enable them to meet their client needs by providing a wider product menu but also enables them to expand scale and impact at the bottom of the pyramid (target clientele) which is in line with its financial inclusion agenda.
Software Group digital banking technologies and platforms are already in use by over 200 clients in over 70 countries. Some of their clients include Fidelity Bank Ghana, Bayport Financial Services, Allianz Bank in Bulgaria, among others.