TanzaniaInvest had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Wingfield, the new Chief Executive (CE) of Stanbic Bank Tanzania since April 2020. Wingfield discusses the bank’s strategy during the Covid-19 pandemic and its long-term commitment to the development of Tanzania.
Before joining Stanbic Tanzania, you held various positions within the Stanbic Group, in South Africa, Ghana, and Uganda. What is the importance of the Tanzania market for the group, and what are the idiosyncrasies that you are witnessing here?
The Tanzania market is a key regional and economic participant in both the South African Development Community and the East African Community. For Standard Bank as an African based and focused Bank, having a presence in Tanzania is critical.
This allows us to support our global, African and Regional clients doing business in Tanzania. We have a footprint in Uganda and Kenya which, given Tanzania’s role as a key trade entry point into the Region allows us to link our customers across the EAC.
Tanzania is also a large economy, rich in natural resources, which fits in well with our over 150 years of experience. We believe we have an important role to play in working with all stakeholders to continue to support and build Tanzania.
We are approaching the end of Tanzania’s ambitious National Five Year Development Plan 2016/17 – 2020/21, which aimed at a GDP growth of 10% by 2021, from 7% in 2015, mostly on the account of industrial and infrastructure development. However, the AfDB revealed a growth of 6.8% in 2019, and forecasted (before to the COVID-19 pandemic) a 6.4% growth in 2020. How is Stanbic adapting its strategy to the current economic environment? On which sectors will you focus from now on?
Obviously the current environment is challenging and no one knows exactly how long this pandemic will last and how it will impact our environment into the future.
What we do know is that what we knew as “normal” before will not be the “normal” in the future. The health and safety of our customers and staff are clearly our first priority.
As an organization we are constantly monitoring the situation and adapting our strategy and modus operandi to meet both the challenges but also the opportunities that are evolving. We will continue to focus on those sectors that are a priority for growth and development in Tanzania.
At present the likes of tourism, transport, oil and gas, local and cross border traders are all finding the environment challenging. However there are some sectors that are thriving like medical and consumer, which present opportunities.
As a leading and responsible corporate citizen in the market we also have an obligation to do what we can to support the efforts of Government and other organizations to fight the pandemic and support the economy through this time.
Have you already developed a contingency plan to take into account the current COVID-19 pandemic?
We are constantly monitoring the developments and implications of the pandemic and are adjusting our plans and operational focus in real time.
More than ever as organizations we need to be agile and adaptable. We have invoked our Business Continuity Plan which ensures we are able to remain ready and able to support our customers.
We have also aggressively supported our customers to transition their banking to our digital services and capabilities.
We are also fast-tracking our digital journey to ensure we can provide our customers with even more seamless and accessible banking services that deliver real value.
We have already provided many of our customers who are struggling to meet loan obligations with repayment holidays and other forms of loan restructures.
There are 40 banks operating in Tanzania, from over 50 a few years ago, and web-based financial services and payment providers have entered the market. Do you expect more consolidation to take place?
I think consolidation in any industry is natural as there will always be winners and losers. I think given the current COVID – 19 crises this is going to be accentuated, as those organizations that act swiftly and adapt to ensure they remain relevant to their customers will grow and those that are slower or unable to adapt will disappear or be taken over.
How do you see at the increasing convergence of mobile-based technology and finance in a market with very limited banking penetration?
Mobile technology and finance are intertwined. There is no doubt that the future of finance is digital. Technology lowers the cost of delivering financial services and this allows for much greater access to financial services and financial inclusion.
Collaboration and partnerships will be critical between traditional financial services and the emerging Fintech world in order to ensure we all stay relevant to our customers.
Technology is also revolutionizing more complex banking products and services which enhances the customer experience but also gives rise to new and emerging risks that need to be managed.
What are Stanbic USP and competitive advantages?
As a member of the Standard Bank Group we are part of the largest bank on the continent that has a presence in 21 countries on the continent, a strong balance sheet and over 40,000 people.
We have access to proven expertise in Tanzania and from the Group to support all the key sectors that are and will drive growth in Tanzania. Our largest single shareholder Industrial Commercial Bank of China also provides us with a unique value proposition and access into China and the linkages back to Africa. We have built a strong brand in Tanzania and believe we are well-positioned to deliver our local and Group capabilities to meet our customer needs as we fulfill our Group vision of “Africa is our home, we drive her growth.”
Notwithstanding the current head winds, Tanzania is expected to remain among the fastest-growing countries in terms of economic and population growth. Which role do you aim to play in the socio-economic development of Tanzania over the next few years?
This year as Stanbic Bank we celebrate our 25th year in Tanzania. We have played a meaningful role in the growth of the country, the industry and our customers over these years.
We look forward to playing an even greater role in supporting the growth and economic success of the country.
We are also focused on supporting education and medical sector upliftment in the societies we operate.