BusinessDay

Customers need more Gtbank branches open, weekly

Guaranty Trust Bank executed a major coup in the banking sector at its opening on 17th January, 1990 when it, in quick time, got people opening accounts with zero naira. That was the advent of the democratization, if you will, of bank account ownership. Up until then, it was largely a status thing with the vast majority of Nigerians preferring to stay unbanked as they hadn’t the resources to open or maintain a bank account.

Well, the reason we describe it as a coup is because it turned out to be an entry strategy gambit that paid off big time. In no time, the bank was everywhere as individuals, especially younger folks decided they were ready to own bank accounts. Today, GT is one of Nigeria’s largest banks despite having had to grow, so to speak, organically, without having to acquire other banks as has become the customary path to expansion here and in other parts of the world.

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The issue now, however, is that as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent scale down of operations, Gtbank has had to operate a shift schedule for its branches such that they weren’t all opened every week. This has brought on a lot of difficulties for the mass of Gtbank customers who now spend an inordinate amount of time at the bank to conduct transactions that normally should happen quickly. The issue had been, well before now, that the bank needed to open more branches as a lot of its its branches are usually filled to the brim during business hours.

This situation ought to have been factored in to the current arrangement which is clearly not working for customers and also the staff. The few available staff are usually overworked. That is not a good thing at a time when compromised immunity has been fingered as one reason people succumb easier to Covid-19.

We had raised this issue once before. We say it again because it is now a health and wellbeing issue. It’s difficult to get distraught customers to observe COVID-19 protocols. There is no social distancing at these branches, and most of them can’t keep their mask on for too long. And did I hear someone say they should use alternative banking channels provided by the bank? Yes, they should. But it’s clear that it takes some time for those to be fully embraced.

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