The report released by the Bank of Botswana ascribes this to increased automation and use of digital channels, along with staff resignations and retirements (not replaced), accounting for the reduced employment at those banks.
While there was a decrease in staff complement for some banks, there was an increase with respect to three banks. Overall, the staff complement for small banks increased by 3.1 percent from 546 in 2019 to 563 in 2020; for large banks, the level of employment declined by 2.3 percent from 4 134 in 2019 to 4 042 in 2020. Expatriate representation as a share of total employees in the banking sector slightly decreased from 1.1 percent (59) in 2019 to 1.09 percent (56) in 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, banks enhanced their digital offerings in an effort to attract and redirect customers away from over-the-counter to remote (internet and mobile) banking platforms and, consequently, reducing visits to branches, in line with the government regulations to decongest business premises in order to stem the tide of COVID-19.
During the review period, banks introduced 24 new products and services covering a wide range of banking services, such as enhancement of transactional accounts and introduction of cross-border payment services, according to the supervision report. “Most of these products and services target retail customers, with a view to retaining clients, broadening the customer base and expanding sources of income,” the report said noting that some banks have established collaborative arrangements with money-transfer service providers to facilitate provision of financial and payments services to the unbanked segment of the society and hence helping to broaden financial inclusion.
The restructuring and expansion of operations by banks resulted in the opening of six new branches. As a result, bank branches increased from 155 in 2019 to 161 in 2020. The number of ATMs increased from 542 to 564 during the year. Most of the new ATMs have enhanced functions, including the deposit-taking facility and card-less options for certain transactions, thus improving the convenience of access to transactional banking services. In addition, ATMs are increasingly used for cashing and re-depositing mobile money transfers/payments.