Fidelity Bank is the largest privately- owned Ghanaian bank, serving more than three million customers with its innovative range of inclusive banking products that encourage unbanked and underbanked consumers to join the formal financial system. The company is an agency banking pioneer and has played a pivotal role in raising rates of financial inclusion across the country.
Ghana’s fast-growing population has taken strides towards financial inclusion over the past decade, but access to savings, credit and insurance products remains far below global benchmarks.
Historically, many Ghanaians have relied on local savings programs called Susu, which collect regular cash deposits over a period and return the proceeds to the saver for a small fee, often without paying any interest. This has contributed in part to a lack of savings culture in the country, with gross savings of the country stagnant over the past 15 years even as GDP per capita has increased1. Adults overwhelmingly see savings as ‘short-term’ in nature, with 66% of adults classifying savings as a duration less than one month2.
Financial literacy is a key barrier to shifting these attitudes. 15% of Ghanaians remaining distrustful of financial institutions while 5% do not know how to open a banking transactional account3. A further 3% don’t have the documentation required to open a formal bank account, an issue that disproportionately affects those consumers with low literacy.
Close to half of the population live in rural areas, substantially affecting access to financial services. Just 18% of rural adults live within 30 minutes of an ATM, compared to 52% in urban centres. Mobile money agents have begun to fill this gap as bank branches and ATMs continue to be the least accessible banking infrastructure. These agents offer cash deposit and withdrawal services for account holders, and are more conveniently located, with 76% of rural adults and 92% of urban adults living less than 30 minutes from a mobile money agent4.
While mobile money services have improved overall financial inclusion in Ghana, uptake of other financial services such as credit, savings and insurance products remains low, especially for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)5.
1 UNU WIDER, Domestic savings in sub-Saharan Africa: The case of Ghana, 2023 2 Ibid 3 Ministry of Finance, The Official Ghana Demand Side Survey 2021 4 Ibid 5 Ibid
Fidelity Bank's Solution
Fidelity Bank is a pioneer of agency banking in Ghana, delivering banking products that reach more than 4.9 million people across the country.
The bank has a network of more than 4,600 active agents across Ghana who help to extend its reach into rural and underserved areas. These agents are trained by the bank and assist customers to set up accounts, check their balance, make transfers, and access other services, ultimately helping to build financial literacy and capability countrywide. In 2022 alone, Fidelity’s Agency Banking service facilitated over 1.7 million transactions, equivalent to 25% of all transactions across Fidelity’s network, and also creating employment opportunities for the agents themselves6.
Innovative tools such as Fidelity’s 24/7 WhatsApp banking assistant Kukua also provide clear and easy-to-understand information to customers. Retail customers can initiate fund transfers, airtime top ups, exchange rate checks, mini statement reviews, account balance checks and ATM and branch locators in real time via the app, which is widely used across all parts of the country.
Similarly, the bank has created an Instant Voice Response (IVR) platform “Efie ni Efie” which uses natural language processing to drive adoption and usage of financial services, especially for remote communities. People in these communities, especially those with low literacy and without access to smartphones, are able to access guides focused on financial management, budgeting, and savings plans in local languages via voice messages on their phones7.
Partnerships with telcos such as market leader MTN have expanded Fidelity’s reach and led to the formulation of products such as the Yello Save account, which allows customers to make contributions into their high-interest savings account directly from a mobile money wallet. As mobile adoption surges in Ghana, with 16.7 million unique mobile subscribers in the country, these products can reach a significant portion of the community8.
6 MyJoyOnline, Fidelity Bank upgrades offering with revamped agency plus, 2023 7 UNCDF, Fidelity Bank’s digital financial literacy platform, 2022 8 GSMA, The state of mobile in Ghana’s tech ecosystem, 2020
LeapFrog invested in Fidelity Bank in 2021, attracted by the company’s significant drive to “build lives through finance” and its commitment to digital innovation.
Fidelity’s success has been driven by good governance, superior products, customer focus and key investments in technology. LeapFrog is actively working with Fidelity across each of these enablers to further support the company reach its ambition of equipping every household in Ghana with the financial tools to thrive.
Working with Fidelity’s Inclusive Banking Department, LeapFrog is helping to expand the bank’s agency model, including through partnerships with Ghana Post, where customers can now access services at 19 post offices around the country9. These measures have contributed to growing the bank’s emerging consumer reach to 1.9 million.
With extensive knowledge of the African Financial Services sector, the investment team has also assisted Fidelity to grow its bancassurance offering, targeting the 70% of the population without insurance10. For those Ghanaians who do have insurance, the majority of policies are taken out for health cover, leaving strong growth potential in adjacent products including life and pension insurance11.
LeapFrog has also evaluated Fidelity’s talent structures and the readiness of its management for growth, via its Talent Accelerator platform. This work has included leadership training for its management team and C-suite leaders as well as work on retention frameworks across its broader workforce.
These initiatives and others are part of an increasing focus of the bank on ESG and sustainability, including the implementation of a three-pillar sustainability agenda covering sustainable finance, sustainable operations and corporate social responsibility.
9 MyJoyOnline, Fidelity Bank upgrades offering with revamped agency plus, 2023 10 UNDP , 70% of Ghanaians have no access to insurance, 2021 11 Ministry of Finance, The Official Ghana Demand Side Survey 2021