Barclays Bank Tanzania Limited has clarified that the closure of its ten branches in the country is not the start of a withdrawal from the areas it operated in, but rather a realignment aimed at improving operational efficiency.
Kihara Maina, chief executive officer of the fourth largest bank in the country told editors in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday that the move was part of a strategy to realign its geographical presence in the country and reach its target of extending its market share from the current five per cent.
He pointed out that infrastructure was still a hurdle, especially since the economy was still mainly cash based. “Banks need to worry about security and costs when moving cash over long distances,” he said.
He also pointed out that the bank’s presence would still be felt countrywide. “There is now internet and mobile banking, tools which are handy in reaching our customers in most parts of the country,” he said.
The move will affect 100 employees, but Maina said measures are in place to ensure their interests are protected.
“It is not a decision we are making lightly, but if we are going to improve our services, performance and meet our ambitious goals in Tanzania, we must make sure we are positioned appropriately to deliver against expectations,” Maina said.
He said the country’s economy was forecast to grow at a higher rate and thus offer growing opportunities to the banking sector, adding that Barclays was there to participate and ensure those goals are achieved.
He said the decision to close down the ten branches will be executed in such a way that the customers will have enough time to choose which branches to move to. “Measures have been put in place to inform customers through various channels. “The bank…has put in place measures to minimise the disruption in service to its customers, Maina said.
He said affected customers would not be required to open new accounts as the existing ones will be migrated to the remaining branches.
According to Maina, seven branches are to be closed in July, allowing for a one-month’s notice to the affected customers to move, while the remaining three will be given three months, clarifying that they needed longer time to move, because of the few banking services available.