Bringing International Standards to Zambia
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Callum Philp
Emerging technology trends in Zambia’s commercial banking scene have dictated the growing uptake of, and appreciation for, financial services in one of the continent’s key growth markets. Cavmont Bank has made every effort to be at the forefront of this, witnessing unprecedented growth in the past two years, actualised by major investments in technology and an increase of geographic coverage to include 19 branches across Lusaka, Chingola, Ndola, Kitwe, Chililabombwe, Mbala, Mpulungu, Solwezi, Chipata, Kasama, Mansa, Mwense and Mufumbwe. The Bank now has more than 50,000 clients and 240 employees who are eager to take Cavmont to the next level.
Following a merger between Cavmont Merchant Bank Ltd and New Capital Bank Plc in 2004, and the later merger with Capricorn Holdings in 2008, Cavmont Bank has grown its presence as a commercial bank in Zambia known for its ability to understand the local market opportunities and create tailored solutions for the corporate and commercial spheres based on this.
Across the past two decades, Cavmont has been increasing its local capacities and product offering in order to deliver as simpler package as possible to Zambian people. “Our unparalleled speed to market makes us highly competitive, and we are broadly respected for this. Not only have we succeeded in creating financial products that are easy to understand, but after two decades of brand loyalty, our customers recognise our ability to operate in the country,” says Charles Carey, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cavmont Bank.
Increasing its customer channels and distribution of its products is something that features heavily on the landscape of Cavmont’s strategic themes for 2015. With significant investment in improving the brand through refreshed social media channels and increased media engagement, the Bank is on the right trajectory to maintain rapid growth.
By embracing the latest technologies, Cavmont was able to roll out a new mobile payment platform, e-Cavmont, which enabled the institution to grow its transaction volumes from 3,000 to nearly 30,000 transactions a month.
“This interactive channel marks a new foray for us as a company, which we want our clients to view with vigour. It is designed to empower them to transact wherever and whenever they want. Moreover, we are able to reach far greater volumes of customers much more rapidly, without having to invest in further physical infrastructure and carry high OpEx,” explains Carey.
The flexibility that comes from mobile payments is something that has become commonplace around the world, and platforms such as E-Cavmont bring Africa into the 21st century. “In terms of other financial services, Africa has, to an extent, skipped a step when it comes to ATMs; moving straight to mobile banking and money transfer applications. Cavmont did not have standardised ATMs until early 2014, and we have now begun rolling them out at our branches across the country to great success; with approximately 50 in place and close-to 100,000 transactions recorded a month between 2014 and 2015,” he adds.
For Carey, this is just the beginning and by keeping his finger on the pulse he hopes to demonstrate Cavmont’s ability to operate in Zambia; “a frontier market, with a perceived higher-risk environment, where to succeed is to know how best to handle and respond to the financial requirements of the environment”.
Since the merger in 2004, Cavmont has been gaining traction as a competitive employer in Zambia’s finance sector. After launching a partner programme between itself and New Capital there has been a brand new dynamic in the team. “Statistics have shown that we are becoming a much more attractive employer, with quality resources and improved ability to give critical yield back to our clients.
“From a talent perspective, it can be about what you are offering to highly specialised capital, but this can be a very high risk strategy. We have avoided this by building momentum around the business – growing Cavmont’s brand presence and reputation – to attract young talent to the business and focus on securing the right people to become part of our success story in a plan to achieve long-term sustainability,” says Carey, who details that a number of his newest colleagues are part of the Zambian Diaspora who have returned to the country after studying or working abroad.
“These individuals bring international exposure, experience and skills to Zambia, in turn, transferring this to local organisations,” he adds.
In order to complete the picture, Cavmont is committed when it comes to impacting positively in the communities where it operates, reaching the underprivileged by making it easier for them to access formalised financial services that unlock an individual’s potential and turn possibilities into realities. For the past two years, the Bank has placed emphasis on three key themes via ongoing CSR projects: women empowerment, children and education; however this is by no means limited to these three stakeholder groups.
“Our community involvement and our commitment to delivering on our civic responsibilities impacts greatly on the lives of a diverse range of Zambians,” highlights Carey.
Furthermore, Cavmont has a passion for securing education and learning for all children, and specific branches have adopted schools to help with cleaning and other duties; one example of this is Mapalo Bread of Life Community School in Ndola.
Other charitable activities in the past two years include promoting breast cancer awareness, supporting local sporting activities, boosting awareness of men’s health issues including cancer, emphasis on improving literacy, and a continued emphasis on environmental consciousness and energy saving.
The ability to truly understand the local market and convert this into appropriate customer solutions is undoubtedly a key component that sets Cavmont Bank apart from the competition. Carey concludes: “We check each product is right for the local financial structures in Zambia and have demonstrated that we are able to launch these products with a pace that meets market expectations.
“Not only this, we have a history of being competitively priced and delivering high service levels that are broadly respected by local businesses, and with this comes unquestionable loyalty to our brands which is responsible for our latest high growth levels, which are touted to continue into the future. ”