Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 June 2020:
As the world moves gradually away from use of paper currency to cashless transactions, which carry the convenience of safety and security from theft, management of Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, the country’s largest profitable financial service provider has urged customers to utilize the various digitalized banking services that it has incorporated to make banking easier and cheap for its customers.
Among SLCB’s suite of electronic card-based money transaction services is Visa which enables customers to transact from the ease of their homes or offices – locally and internationally.
The Visa card which was launched at the Freetown Golf Club earlier this year has the distinct feature that can be used on POS devices and more than 20 million ATMs worldwide and also online to buy products and services.
The Visa Debit card works like cash, only better. They use funds directly from your bank account and are accepted worldwide. They offer quick, secure and convenient access to your money in person, online, overseas and over the phone.
SLCB also has on offer Western Union money transfer cards, SWIFT, which eases transfer of money for both business and personal purposes.
In taking financial inclusivity to the grassroots, many SLCB customers have said that the bank’s community banking kiosks in Goderich, Wilberforce and Jui have been of great help to them.
Meanwhile, to further ease banking activities for their customers, SLCB introduces Africell mobile apps to enable their customers purchase goods and services and transfer money.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Sierra Leone reports that SLCB has consistently over the past ten quarters reported the highest earnings among all the country’s commercial banks, making it also the most profitable.
In 2019, the Bank grossed more than Le100 billion (USD10 million) pre-tax profits.
In a brief chat with the editor of the Satellite Newspaper, the dynamic Managing Director of SLCB, Fidelis Turay, revealed that the bank is making these strides because of team work.
“We are working as a team and we will work very hard to maintain the standard of the bank and top position in the financial industry,” the MD noted.
If Sierra Leoneans can now use WhatsApp in their villages and now have access to zoom each other during this coronavirus crisis, then they will be able to use Visa card and mobile banking. Currently any money deposited in my account in Freetown, I instantly receive an email from this bank which was unthinkable 10 years ago. I wish them “God Speed”.
Reinhard Wiecha, Thanks for your response. I don’t know how much credence to give it – the jury is out. In the absence of never having visited Germany I will believe you. But let me remind you that all countries have people who fall through the cracks for whatever reason. Some of the reasons could be deadly, such as when Germany was hit by the Baader Meinhof Gang, and Japan was hit by the Japanese Red Army. Did members of these terror groups have a bank account? Do all German-born homeless people who have shunned society, have a bank account?
Allow me to remind you that when the Nazis rose to power they sent all homeless people to concentration camps. Did the German authorities open a bank account for each of them? Do all current homeless people in Germany have a bank account? Banks all over the world just have to make do with what funds they are able to attract, by way of savings and use them to create more credit, into which I am not prepared to go at this time. Mr Turay and his bank are no exception.
Putting you aside Mr Wiecha, let me tell others that a bank debit card is very different from a credit card. A debit card is tied directly to one’s current account. The holder can only use funds equal to what is in the account – full stop. A credit card is more like a limited loan which a bank or some other body has offered a person. It carries interest charges. This point is directed at those that have started exhibiting their ignorance of the difference between a debit card and a credit card. Mr Turay is embroiled in the debit card arena right now.
Good evening Mr. Sorie, I don’t like to talk on this forum and on this matter about the raf/baader meinhof or about this terrible time of the nazi-fascism. This has nothing to do with my critics against the worldwide tendency of online banking and cashless money transfers for it carries the risk of more and more control and monitoring of us ordinary people and that is the interest of the global financal capital and their henchmen.
Good to hear our local banking institutions catching up with the rest of the world. I guess the time is ripe for me to revive my account with SLCB, which have been dormant for years. God only knows what remaining balance exists in that account, hahaha!!
Seriously, this scheme will have a huge impact on the lives of struggling people of our country. This is like you are trying to walk, before you can crawl. In economies like South Africa and to some extent Nigeria, Egypt, Rwanda etc. you can see it at work. Even in Kenya, where mobile banking is in a world of its own. When it comes to digital banking Southern African countries have always lead the way. At one point some western nations were playing catch-up with Kenya. You cannot dismiss it out of hand. It is workable, but you have to have good political leadership. Above all else sound economics policies. I wish it works, just so Sierra Leone, is in lockstep with 21st century economies. I don’t think we are there yet.
The vast majority of people are toiling just to survive, and feed their families. They live from hand to mouth. They will need bank accounts. And for the visa scheme to work for the ordinary man and woman and not just for the elite, the government needs to put in place controls for currency fluctuations, relative to inflation. The exchange rate relative to the dollar has to have some form of stability. And this is attributed to the weakness of our economy. For the time being, before the public can take a leap of faith, we want the government to put in place sound economic policies to spur some growth. Starting point will be to invest in education, health and infrastructure, like roads, clean water and electricity.
It is just another ill-advised, profit-making, show-boating scheme by the bank. The bank is a monster that feeds hugely on profits; without excessive profits it will starve and die.(lol) Seriously, only a tiny percentage of our population is going to directly benefit from this scheme. And this is exactly the reason why our countries don’t ever move forward, they always come up with the most awkward, unworkable ideas, tailored and designed strictly, to meet the needs of only the rich and educated elites. Mr Wiecha, African countries are experts at putting carts before the horses that pull them; most of our sleepy-eyed people are poor, jobless, uneducated and many can barely even afford three square meals a day.
Where is that extra income going to come from, that will enable the poorest of the poor to save quite enough and engage themselves robustly, in everyday cashless transactions? Again, our people should first learn the ways of thriftiness, humility and pragmatism; a people still living from hand to mouth, dwelling in overcrowded, filthy slums without proper, hygienic facilities, should open their eyes, put all forms of superficiality aside and tender devotedly to their immediate pressing needs. I think the banks should pay more attention to improving the daily lives of struggling people, by investing zealously in the economic welfare of communities; they should double and triple their efforts in areas of small business loans financing, training and mentoring programs and also make it a priority to create, facilitate and provide affordable health insurance, for millions of our struggling poor.
Mr. Santhkie Sorie, in Germany if you are employed, you had to have a bank account and also if you are unemployed and get small money from the government. Some years ago you got a small interest rate, now it is zero.
I would like to complete another critical aspect. With this digtal development, G5, smartphones with a lot of apps, cashless
payments and so on, the surveillance of each one becomes more and more of a reality, each step you do. No fear?
Friendly greetings from Orson Welles.
Reinhard Wiecha, Mr Turay is living on planet Earth, with its gravitational pull to save us from floating around, on the Continent of Africa (the second largest Continent), in a country called Sierra Leone, with an area of almost 28,000 sq miles. We must start somewhere. Even in the most advanced countries like Germany, not everybody has a bank account; some people deliberately avoid banks because they don’t trust them. Mr Turay has left his foot print on the banking sector in Sierra Leone, just like Neil Armstrong left his on the moon over fifty years ago. Mr Turay does not suffer from defeatism.
How much will it cost to open an account and what are the procedures needed?
It is quite a leap forward. Mr Turay has to be commended for it. It is a step which brings the country to parity with the modern world. Mr Turay just has to ensure that the network is more than a hundred percent secure; this means employing Sierra Leoneans who are computer dexterous in developing codes which are not easily breached, or if they are breached the damage is not extensive. I am sure that Mr Turay is aware of the fact that there are very intelligent computer hackers all over the world, who are very versed in the criminality of stealing people’s identity so that they can gain access into their accounts and empty it completley. This happens even in the most technologically advanced countries in the world like the United States.
I hope both present and future governments will keep adjusting legislation to severely punish computer hackers who threaten the nation. If they are foreigners, not only should we jail them and get them to return their loot, but have their travelling documents ready to load them onto a plane straight from jail, while obeying international codes of conduct. We are still in our infancy when it comes to technology, we must be ready. Well done Mr Turay.
In which world is this man is living, Sierra Leone? How many ordinary people have a bank account and a safe monthly income to get a visa card?