Bank of Maldives: providing banking for a dispersed population

Efma feature

07 November 2018

Andrew Healy, CEO of Bank of Maldives, told Efma how the bank is meeting the unique needs of the country’s population.

When it comes to banking, customers in the Maldives have the same expectations as many others across the world – but delivering them brings its own challenges. “People’s expectations here are not much different from what you would see today in most countries – fast and efficient access to a full range of financial services, with good underlying technology,” said Andrew Healy, CEO of Bank of Maldives.

“What is uniquely challenging in the Maldives is the dispersed geographical nature of this archipelagic nation with the population scattered across almost 200 islands over a 90,000 square kilometer distance. This means that financial inclusion is not straightforward, and it is not practical to have bank branches on some of the smaller islands in particular. Thankfully the challenge is made easier by the fact that the population is relatively young and quite tech savvy – for example mobile phone penetration is above 200% and most are latest-model smartphones.”

Bank of Maldives rises to the challenge through a blend of physical and digital channels. “We have a comprehensive network of branches, ATMs, self-service banking centers, agents and relationship managers across all 20 of the country’s atolls/regions,” explained Healy. “This physical presence is augmented by good digital technology which, given the aforementioned appetite for technology among the population, is well used. In fact, nine out of every ten customer transactions in our bank are through digital channels today. Our internet banking penetration is over 65% and we have almost 100% card penetration amongst our customers, leading to diminishing use of cash which is positive. All told, the days when people on remote islands had to travel for several hours to the nearest branch for basic banking services are over.”

Looking ahead, Healy expects retail banking in the Maldives to follow key trends that have emerged in other parts of Asia. “Within the wider continent, digital technologies and new solutions such as artificial intelligence are changing the way banks interact with customers,” he said. “As has been discussed widely at the ABA Conference over recent years, banks and fintech organizations are increasingly collaborating to offer more relevant products and solutions to retail, small business and corporate clients in order to meet their needs as well as to save costs, improve compliance and reduce exposure to risks. Looking at the agenda for this year’s conference, it will doubtless prove extremely helpful in providing a forum for discussing the next phase of developments in our industry.”

But the country’s distinctive geography will also influence the evolution of its banking services. “While the Maldives will likely follow international trends and developments, we must always be mindful of the country’s unique geographical characteristics. Things are very much moving in the right direction here economically and the local banks, Bank of Maldives in particular, have a duty to support economic development in a positive and proactive manner.”

The 35th ABA General Meeting and Conference will be held on 15-16 November 2018 at the Kurumba Resort, Maldives.

Keywords : Business strategy/Model , Bank Products & Services

Geography : Maldives