MAPUTO, Mozambique’s largest commercial bank, the Millennium-BIM (International Bank of Mozambique) has inaugurated what it described as its innovation branch inside the Baia shopping mall on the Maputo coast road here.

The branch boasts the latest in information communication technology (ICT), allowing most transactions to be done electronically without the intervention of bank staff.

For the first time, its clients will be able to renew or replace their bank debit cards at a machine almost instantly whereas the previous system involved filling out a form, handing over a photocopy of one’s identity card, and waiting for up to two weeks for the new card to be issued.

Another innovation is a cash deposit machines. A few of these machines had been tried out in several other branches, but this was the official inauguration of this technology.

As far as possible, paper has been eliminated from this branch. Anybody who wants to know the bank’s charges, or the latest exchange rates, can simply call them up on a screen.

Millennium-BIM Chairperson Rui Fonseca said at Wednesday’s ceremony that the bank was committed to bringing more people into the formal economy, and persuading them to use banks. The switch from an informal to a formal economy can only be achieved through a strong financial sector.”

BIM was always innovative, he said, and had always looked to introduce the latest in banking technologies. We introduced the first ATMs in Mozambique. We revolutionized the banking system. We were always looking to use cutting edge technology,” he said.

All this technology was developed by our own staff, by Mozambican experts in IT systems. They didn’t come from outsiders.”

Fonseca said that when he had joined the Board in mid-2015 there were 146 BIM branches in the country. Now there are 187. We are in all the districts of Mozambique, either through branches or through banking agents. This costs a great deal. Doing things properly is not easy.

According to the BIM Chief Executive Officer Jose Reno da Costa, BIM now has 1.8 million clients, and accounts for about 30 per cent of all banking business in the country.