The incident was inspired by social media rumours concerning the viability of the community-based lenders.
Rural and community banks in Ghana lost GH¢1 million to panic withdrawals within 7 days
Some rural and community banks (RCBs) in Ghana lost as much as GH¢1 million per bank within a week due to panic withdrawals.
The Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank, Mr Kojo Matta, made the revelation in an interview.
According to him, the rumours were to the effect that the 144 RCBs that are currently in operation were experiencing liquidity challenges and were next in line to be cleaned by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) after the ongoing reforms in the microfinance subsector had concluded.
Although the panic withdrawals were a blow to the affected RCBs and the entire subsector in general, the MD said the ability of the banks to contain the run-ins “for now” showed that the subsector was resilient and robust contrary to speculations that the players were suffering from some liquidity challenges.
In times when the affected banks required financial support to deal with the situation, Mr Mattah said, the ARB Apex Bank, which acts as a ‘mini’ central bank for the RCBs, “has intervened to give them additional support.”
“So, I can say that the rural banking industry is resilient and robust enough,” he assured.
While describing the speculations as false, he explained that the messages had disrupted the normal course of banking in the RCBs.
The social media messages prompted BoG to issue a statement discounting the rumours and describing them as “malicious.”
The June 7 statement explained that the central bank’s clean-up exercise “is only directed at insolvent and illiquid financial institutions which are not able to meet depositors withdrawals.”
Since the statement from the central bank, Mr Mattah said, “nerves have calmed down.”
Consequently, he asked the general public and customers of the RCBs, in particular, to “have confidence in the banking sector” and the community-based banks, in particular, and continue to do normal business with them.
“All the things that the BoG has done, no customer has lost any money and that should be emphasised that it is to protect the customers and the depositor funds and no depositor has reported that he or she has lost money,” he said.
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