Namibia: Access to Affordable Financing Key for Economic Development - BoN

20 March 2020

Certain national developmental agendas can only be achieved through public education and some of the crucial issues pertaining to this, according to the Bank of Namibia, are policies related to fees and charges at banks and financial institutions. Director of Payment and Settlement Systems at the central bank, Barbara Dreyer, said that access to affordable financial products and services is a key driver for economic development.

Dreyer said provision of a basic bank account and depositing cash free of charge are but some initiatives that will encourage more Namibians to become part of the formal banking sector. According to her, fees and charges related to payment services should be in the public interest and should promote efficiency in accordance with the Payment Systems Management Amendment Act of 2010.

On 18 December 2019, the revised Determination on the Standards for a Basic Bank Account and Cash Deposit Fees (PSD-5) was gazetted. This determination sets standards for the provision of a basic bank account by all banking institutions as well as to provide free cash deposits to the public as specified in the standards.

"The Bank of Namibia, through its Determination on the Disclosure of Bank Charges, Fees and Commissions (BID-13), requires banking institutions to disclose their banking fees transparently to the public i.e. banking institutions must ensure all its branches dealing with retail customers shall set up display boards setting out their fees structures," explained Dreyer. In addition, the Bank of Namibia publishes the Banking Fees and Charges Report on an annual basis. The purpose of this report is to promote the transparency of fees and charges levied to customers by different commercial banks as well as NamPost, with the view that customers of banking products and other stakeholders would find the information relevant when dealing with these fees and charges. This enables customers to make informed choices across different banking products and services.

The report also focuses on banking activities that appear to be most frequently used by individuals when engaging in banking business, based on the information collected from the Namibian banking industry. Transaction profiles used in the report are categorised into three distinct customer segments, namely safety seekers, traditionalists, and balancers.

Safety seekers are individuals with limited cash flow and savings. They value keeping personal and financial information safe as well as fee transparency, and have a strong preference for using the branch for most of their banking transactions.

Traditionalists have a basic level of education; relatively receive low incomes and utilise a few banking products. They value being rewarded for their loyalty. Moreover, they are heavy users of ATMs and branches, although they can be persuaded to use other digital channels and to increase their engagement with their service provider if offered new ways of banking.

Balancers generally have more assets and do not switch accounts frequently. While they are comfortable with online channels, they value the relationship aspects offered by traditional banks, fee transparency and assistance with problem resolution.

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