Ecobank Kenya is set to close nine branches in the next six months as it follows customers to digital platforms.
The bank, which has been in Kenya for eight years, says it has identified the growth trends in the financial services sector, which had informed its strategy review. “We are following our customers where they are. We are seeking to increase efficiency by leveraging on available technological solutions,” said Humphrey Muturi, the bank’s head of commercial banking in East Africa.
The decision will see the bank close five branches in Nairobi at Thika Road Mall, Gikomba, Chambers, Ongata Rongai and Embakasi. Outside Nairobi, the bank will shut branches in Busia, Meru, Kitale and Malindi. This will leave the Kenyan subsidiary of the Togo-based lender with 15 branches.
“We have already written to customers in those branches and provided them with clear alternatives on how to transact with us. It is business as usual until the end of April next year,” said Mr Muturi.
He added the traffic on digital platforms, such as online and mobile, was “more than a hundred times” higher than at physical branches. Muturi ruled out massive layoffs as a result of the closures. Instead, he told The Standard the affected employees would be redeployed to other units, such as payment and collections.“In the event that some of them may not get these opportunities, we will treat them with dignity and in a humane way as we allow them to transition to the next phase of their careers,” he said.
The development comes at a time when the bank has made Kenya the hub for its operations in the Central, East and South African cluster of 18 countries. Its focus in the Kenyan market has largely been on corporate and investment banking customers, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises.
The lender reported a profit of Sh90.3 million last year, up from a loss of Sh320 million in 2014.