Bank of Zambia (BoZ) governor Dr Denny Kalyalya has urged the Absa group not to take personal, tough questions that will be asked by the regulator because the Central Bank only wants Zambians to be offered the best financial services.

And Absa deputy group chief executive officer Peter Matlare has called on customers to be wary of fraudsters during this transition period from Barclays Bank Zambia Plc to Absa.

Speaking during the launch of the first-ever Absa branch at Kabulonga’s Centro Mall, Monday evening, Dr Kalyalya urged Absa to commit themselves to the Zambian banking sector for the long-term and not end up folding.

“As regulators, we were concerned because I think you became the incidence of that outrage if I may say so that, many difficult questions have been posed to you and your team, including the local team here, what are you going to do? Are you also going to run away? But earlier on, you assured us that you are going nowhere. I think earlier on, your wisdom or philosophy of saying ‘the road to success is under construction’ I think is truly true, and we have come to recognize that. So, all we are saying is that, the tough questions you have had to field in the supervisory colleges are really just meant to safeguard our own countries, so don’t take it personally, but we want the best for our countries and we will continue to prod you to do the best because we deserve the best,” said Dr Kalyalya.

“From the regulators point of view, there were quite a number of issues that we had to deal with to come to where we are today. I think when the announcement was made by Barclays Bank Plc UK (to sell off its controlling stake in Barclays Africa in 2017), I think the reaction from many of us, not like the business community reacted. I think it’s of concern and the concern arises from the fact that we thought our branches or subsidiaries were doing very well, and I think they were and still continue to do well, but I think it’s something, which arose from the fallout in 2008/09 when we had the global financial crisis where the issue of de-risking became centre stage and with that came the cost of compliance. So, yes, it was a business decision in terms of Barclays Bank Plc and I think the implications on the ground were quite significant. So, there were a number of unintended consequences: we could have had no Absa! If Absa didn’t come forward, we would have had a different story to tell now. So, from my perspective, we commend Absa group for taking the bold step to step in and own this space.”

And SA-based Matlare called on Absa’s customers to be wary of fraudsters during this transition period from Barclays to Absa.

“All customer services will continue as before throughout the name change process. Customers are not required to do anything during this period. Barclays Bank Zambia Plc will not ask any customer for additional information during this time, and all customer account details will remain the same before and after the transition. Customers continue to bank with us as safely as they always have. I would like to thank the employees of Centro Mall Branch for your patience, your hard work and service to customers, especially during this change. We know that we can continue to rely on you to deliver our new brand experience in a brave, passionate and ready way to all our customers. I would also like to thank our customers. We cannot exist as a business without your support and belief in our vision. We urge you to be particularly vigilant during this time, as fraudsters are always looking for an opportunity to obtain important personal information,” cautioned Matlare.

Barclays Bank Zambia Plc will be expected to complete its transition process to rebrand as Absa by June, 2020.

But before the full transitional period elapses, new Absa bank branches are being rolled out across the Zambian banking landscape, starting with Lusaka District.

In its 101-year banking history in Zambia, Barclays has maintained long-standing clients, such as the Zukas family, who have maintained an account since 1953.