Opportunity Bank has acquired a commercial banking licence raising the number of banks in Uganda to 25.
The bank, which has been operating as a credit institution, was on September 25, awarded a commercial bank license by Bank of Uganda.
It had been operating as a tier-two financial institution, growing its assets to Shs132b with a network of 23 branches across the country and 20 agents.
Speaking in an interview in Kampala yesterday, Mr Tiney Mawocha, the Opportunity Bank chief executive officer, said they had already secured the licence and preparations to start commercial banking operations are expected before the end of the year.
“What we are doing right now is upgrading our banking system to be able to participate and get linked with the Central Bank Real Time Gross Settlements (RTGS) because as a tier two credit institution, we [had not been] on the RTGS system,” he said, noting that the bank’s core banking system will begin operating in November followed by the launch of a fully-fledged commercial banking operating.
The core banking system which will go live in November 2019, Mr Mawocha said, will include the already existing savings accounts, foreign currency accounts, current accounts and overdrafts.
This will also include money remittance services that will also involve overseas transfer and receiving on money.
Mr Mawocha also noted that their capacity to lend will increase with the new status given that it will create other credit sources away from the single source generated from savings accounts and fixed deposit accounts.
The bank, he noted, has a credit portfolio of Shs100b with agriculture constituting a third of its loan book.
“Our lending to agriculture is standing at Shs33b which is our main focus. We also lend to the education sector where we lend both to the educational institutions (schools) and direct lending to the parents to pay school fees for their children,” he said.
Opportunity Bank is owned by MyBucks SA, a fintech company listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and Opportunity Transformation Inc, Food for the Hungry and Faulu Uganda.
MyBucks holds a 49 per cent stake while Opportunity Transformation holds a 39 per cent stake. Other shareholders including Faulu Trust and Food for the Hungry own a stake of 7.14 per cent and 1.01 per cent, respectively while Opportunity International Canada hold a 6.06 stake.
In December 2008, the bank acquired a tier two financial institutions licence to operate as a regulated credit institution.
Growth in deposits
According to Mr Mawocha, Opportunity Bank, has over the last three years seen a rapid growth in its deposits and loan book, which has enabled it to concentrate on helping small businesses to improve their potential. He noted that the transitioning into a fully commercial bank will allow them to offer their almost 300,000 customers improved products and service needs which have not been previously available.
“We want to become a one-stop-shop with all service requirements. We shall also offer bid bonds, enhance SME products and performance grantees. Eventually, we also want to provide letters of credit for the SMEs and business requirements,” he said.
The bank, he said, will mainly focus on retail banking with the aim of helping small businesses in the country side.