Rural banks now engage in foreign money transfer

One hundred and twenty-four rural banks now deliver foreign money remittances through the Western Union Money Transfer system, with 350 payment points, Mr Duke Osam-Duodu, Deputy Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank, has said. He said plans were underway to include the other banks as the service has brought a big relief to people in rural areas who used to travel to towns and cities before having access to money remitted from abroad. Mr Osam-Duodo was addressing the 25th Anniversary and 21st Annual General Meeting of the Ahantaman Rural Bank at Agona Nkwanta, on Saturday. He said the ARB Apex Bank was migrating its Apex Link Money Transfer product as well as the Western Union Product onto an ICT platform to improve upon its services. Mr Osam-Duodu said the bank had detected some fraudulent activities of some interns and national service persons working with the bank. These perpetrators, he said, intercept cheques from clearing, destroy statements collected from the Apex Bank Clearing Centres, crone and falsify advices, use the names of known persons at either the Apex Bank or Bank of Ghana to solicit fraudulent assistance from the rural banks, he said. Mr Osam-Duodu said in view of this, various circulars had been issued advising rural banks to be on the lookout for such fraudsters while rural bank managers should check the validity of all credit advices from the Apex Bank and cheques with the value of more than GHC1,000. Mr John Dadzie, Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, said it recorded a growth in its income of GHC2,230,078 for 2008 as against GHC1,982,134 for 2007. He said this was against the backdrop of significant operational challenges from both external and internal sources. Mr Dadzie said the profit after tax, however, dropped from GHC534,533 in 2007 to GHC403,457 in 2008. The reasons for the decline include poor performance of the bank's microfinance product, the Strategic Group Lending, which was launched in 2007. He said most groups failed to repay credits advanced to them and the problem was deepened by poor monitoring of group activities, which was as a result of the lack of logistics. Mr Dadzie said growth in operating expenditure over income also hit the bank's financial performance in 2008 due to increase in staff costs and administrative expenses. He said the strategies for 2009 are yielding positive results and the profit before tax as at September 2009 stood at GHC629,078.85. Mr Dadzie said total assets grew from GHC8,163,402 in 2007 to GHC10,261,835 last year. Mr Joshua Ackah, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bank, said the directors had proposed a dividend of 0.0151 Ghana Cedis per share amounting to GHC242,326 as against a total of GHC190,275 for 2007. He said the bank spent GHC17,257 in support of its corporate social responsibility in 2008 as against GHC18,050 Ghana Cedis in 2007. In its 25 years of operation, the bank has spent a total of GHC59,075 in support of institutional and community development projects and programmes. The modern head office of the bank was inaugurated during the AGM.