The Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank, Mr Kwaku Badu-Addo, has called on the public not to panic about getting access to foreign currencies, particularly the United States dollar, since banks can facilitate such exchanges.
He said “people do not really need to carry cash with them to transact business outside the country” since banks had the solution to facilitate trade between business units in Ghana and their partners in any part of the world.
For instance, Mr Badu-Addo said, his bank had as much as seven different solutions that could help businesses meet their payment obligations with other businesses across the world.
Speaking at the inauguration of a modern branch of the bank at North Industrial Area in Accra, the Stanchart CEO said the visa cards, which had been one of the strong foreign currency solutions for the bank, had proven to work very well for travellers.
“Personally when I arrive in any country what I do is to go to the automated teller machine (ATM) and use my visa card to withdraw cash in that country’s local currency; and it works very well,” the banking chief told graphic.com.gh shortly after the inauguration of the state-of-the-art banking hall which typifies the bank’s new model of retail banking.
He explained that the US dollar was not the official currency in circulation in Ghana, hence what was used locally had to be imported at a cost, a reason why the public should abate their demand to hold the dollar physically.
Mr Badu-Addo said there were bank transfers and drafts that could be done without using physical cash, adding that “in this technological era, you don’t really need cash to transact any business abroad.”
He said another phenomenon that had fuelled the demand for the dollar and its run-away price was the ‘dollarisation of the economy’ which he wants authorities to decisively deal with.
“This is illegal and we hope that the authorities would work on policies to stop that as that also contributes to the pressure on the local currency,” the Stanchart CEO stated.
His comments come in the wake of concerns about banks’ unwillingness to pay dollars over the counter to even customers who operate dollar accounts with them.
This follows the bank of Ghana’s guidelines to the banks on how to operate foreign currency accounts whereby the banks are charged fees for holding foreign exchange accounts on behalf of customers.
Mr Badu-Addo conceded the inability of banks to honour certain levels of forex withdrawals with this scenario that it would be easier for a bank to pay all monies, no matter how huge, in local currencies than in foreign currency because the former was the primary currency in circulation, while the later would have to be imported at a cost.
He, therefore, stressed the need for Ghanaians to eschew their penchant for carrying cash overseas for transactions when they could use other means through technology and other banking solutions.
On the new branch, he said arrangements in the banking halls had changed as they now take the model applied in all leading markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore, saying “this is what will become the standard in the bank.”
That, he said, would enable the bank to provide one-stop services to its customers in a friendly, convenient and comfortable ambience.
The immaculately designed interior has personnel of the bank first welcoming guests and ushering them into the appropriate officers; personal financial consultants are positioned on the sides of the banking hall, while the tellers are the last port of call positioned at the end of the hall to ensure security and convenience.
The executive Director, Consumer Banking at Stanchart, Mr Andy Okai, said the ambience at the banking hall run across all its branches in the most advanced markets, saying it was another first that the bank was bringing onto the Ghanaian market.
He said six other branches would be retrofitted to that standard and thereafter other branches would follow with the same concept.
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