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- Nyasha Francis Nyaungwa
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FNB this week became the first bank to comply with a Bank of Namibia directive making it compulsory for all banks in the country to issue Basic Bank Accounts to clients earning less than N$2000 per month.
Hardly a week after the instruction from the central bank, FNB on Thursday launched the revised CardWise Zero product, which it says, is fully compliant with the new requirements set for the Basic Bank Account.
CardWise Zero is a debit card based transmission account, which allows full ATM and point-of-sale functionality; charges no monthly account fees; allows free cash deposits of up to N$2000 per month, among other features. In addition, FNB said it has enhanced the Cellphone Banking value proposition for CardWise Zero.
Launching the card in the capital, CEO Ian Leyenaar said FNB has always been a stern supporter of the financial inclusion initiative introduced by the central bank.
He said: “In 2007 Finscope statistics concluded that only a very small percentage of Namibians were financially included. This information was as much a concern to FNB Namibia as it was to Bank of Namibia and numerous efforts have been made since then to improve the situation.
“Our efforts paid off as is reflected in the 2011 Finscope results - the latest Finscope research shows that the financially included population has moved from 47% to 65% which is a substantial improvement over a relatively short period.”
Barbara Gowaseb, Director at the Bank of Namibia, expressed appreciation to FNB for their co-operation and contribution in making this account a reality. She further commended the bank for implementing the Basic Bank Account more than three months ahead of the deadline date set by the central bank.
On Friday last week, the central bank announced that it had set specific standards for the introduction of a Basic Bank Account in consultation with the banking industry as part of the promotion of the financial inclusion agenda.
The Basic Bank Account is intended for individuals earning N$2000 per month or less and will be offered at all banking branches in the country. In order to open this account, no proof of income will be required. Banking institutions shall however actively monitor these accounts to ensure that those targeted benefit from this product.
The central bank said the initiative is in line with the Financial Sector Strategy and its key strategic focus areas and plan for 2012 to 2016. Each banking institution was advised to offer a Basic Bank Account by 31 October 2012:
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