Liberia: Commercial Banks Asked to Engage in Agency Banking
The outgoing president of the Liberia Bankers Association (LBA) and managing director of Ecobank Liberia, Mr. George Mensah-Asante, has stressed the need for commercial banks in the country to pursue agency banking.
Agency banking, also called agent banking, delivers essential financial services to customers through a network of third-party agents on behalf of a licensed financial institution or a mobile money operator.
As such, instead of one traveling to far-off areas to withdraw money, customers can reach out to an agent banker, deputized by a large financial institution or phone company, to provide access to cash withdrawals, deposits, and transfers of funds.
However, Mensah-Asante, who served as president of the LBA for nearly two consecutive years (2022–2023), said this idea will help to make the banking sector more viable and accessible.
“As an association, we need to pursue agency banking as a quick strategy to enable us to spread our distribution network to other geographical locations beyond Monrovia and complement the work of our mainstream branches,” the Ghanaian banker, who is poised to officially retire later this month.
He made the remarks recently at a send-off dinner program held in his honor and the installation of the new corps of officers organized by the LBA.
Mensah-Asante indicated that, as MDs of commercial banks, it is very important to provide convenient banking to their customers that will enable them to do their daily transactions.
“As commercial banks, it solely rests on our shoulders to provide convenience for our customers. I am happy that we have made strides for Liberians to meet basic financial needs, such as digitally accessing cash, receiving salary payments, and obtaining loans, but there is still more work to be done,” he declared.
Mensah-Asante, who is an accomplished banker with over 30 years of experience, hopes that the LBA will continue its engagements with the CBL on the National Switch, Credit Reference Bureau, and CBL Policy on delinquent borrowers to be fully implemented to ensure that they rid the banking system of undesirable customers.
“It has been a successful tenure for me serving as your president, and I am pleased to report the success we have made together, especially in the general payment system in Liberia and the implementation of the financial inclusion strategy launched in December of 2019,” he said. “As I hand over the mantle of authority to a colleague, Mr. Olalekan Balogun, an experienced banker in marketing who has worked both in Liberia and Ghana, I look forward to him taking the LBA to the next level.”
The outgoing LBA president declared that, though he may no longer be with the LBA, his wish is to see commercial banks in Liberia compete with other banks to ensure that they can match with commercial banks in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and beyond.
“We are in a country where cash is very essential in our daily lives, as it remains the most widely used means of payment (both LRD and USD). Most account holders at commercial banks pay utility bills, school fees, and other general financial transactions in cash. We all know the benefits of digital payments, so I am urging all banks to consider deploying the necessary digital payment platforms to assist their customers,” he continued.
Mensah-Asante seized the opportunity or moment to implore members of the LBA to continue collaborating with relevant state institutions, including their regulators, the Central Bank, to explore ways of improving the important role of financial intermediation, as well as the introduction of modern forms of making payments and sending remittances within Liberia and across the world.
He urged all managing directors in Liberia to demonstrate remarkable results in their respective institutions.