Ecobank: Transnational Bank? By Esi Woarabae Cleland

Ecobank: Transnational Bank?

By Esi Woarabae Cleland

Published on Tue, Oct 07 2008 by Esi W. Cleland
Ecobank is a bank with a strong presence in Africa. I save with them because a friend whose opinion I value and who is a past Ecobank employee recommended them on the basis of their accessibility cautioning that the banking experience might not be great, but that it was still the best in Ghana. Additionally, I had been passively following the banks activities for a while and gotten the sense that financially, the bank was doing well. I’d also heard talk of a 2.5 billion dollar equity offer, which according to the bank’s website, is the first and largest public offer to be made in the region. All signs were positive. However after saving with them for nearly two months, my banking experience has been far from positive. Still I probably wouldn’t have been so dissatisfied if I had not witnessed another Ecobank client’s frustration with the bank.

The client was someone who has an account in Liberia, was in Ghana on business and had written himself a check that he needed to cash. After the many endorsements to be made, he was told to return the following day. When he asked if the money would be ready for pick up by then, the banker told him “God willing”. The client repeated incredulously “God willing”? As I stood by I could feel his frustration. What had God to do with this? The bank was either going to work on getting his money to him or it was not. “But I thought this was a trans-national bank”, he stressed? Somehow the banker started to speak like the client was being unreasonable, when in fact, he had every right to expect a more efficient service from a bank which markets itself to be “convenient, reliable, and accessible” from a bank.

My own experience that day wasn’t any better. First, why did I have to go to the bank to pick up my check books and atm cards, instead of picking them up in the mail? Why couldn’t Ecobank offer that service for clients like me who have some scruples about taking an hour from the time that our employees pay us to work to conduct our own business? After standing in like for most of the hour that I was there, I still did not receive my atm cards, which were not ready after over a month of ordering them. I was able to cash some money (something I couldn’t do at an atm because I still don’t have an atm card), and get a bank statement but that took some waiting in line as well. It seemed that the tellers were spending about five minutes with each person who just needed to either deposit or withdraw money. Why was the service so slow? Having spent an hour already, I decided to get back to work instead of waiting another hour to finish what business I still had to conduct.

I later learned that the deadline for the Ecobank share offer had been extended till October 31st, and as that had been one of the things I’d wanted to find out more about, perhaps I will find another hour one of these days to make a trip to the Ridge West Branch in Accra. But the mere thought of that impending bank visit fills me with dread. What a banking experience, and from what is touted to be the best bank in Ghana too!

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