ARB Apex Bank
Improving access to secure, convenient digital banking services among rural communities in Ghana
At a Glance
• Cuts customer onboarding times by 75%, down from 2 hours to under 30 minutes
• Helps rural and community banks to increase financial inclusion with user-friendly mobile banking
• Ensures client banks meet compliance objectives with real-time transaction monitoring
Founded in 2000, ARB Apex Bank PLC operates as a ‘mini’ central bank for almost 150 rural and community banks located across Ghana. Managing over GH₵ 7 billion in total assets, ARB Apex Bank supports more than half of the banking sector in the African country, providing digital banking, cheque processing, remittance, and correspondent banking services, as well as issuing government securities.
Michael Appiah, Head of Operations at ARB Apex Bank, comments: “Our core mission is to help rural and community banks to improve financial inclusion throughout Ghana. We aim to achieve this by delivering a range of centralized banking services to these institutions, which enable them to offer convenient, user-friendly banking products to their customers in a highly secure, regulated way.”
Improving financial inclusion
Estimates from the Bank of Ghana indicate that 7.3 million adults in the country do not have bank accounts*. The national government is working to reverse this by prioritizing financial inclusion initiatives, through the establishment of rural and community banks across the country. But to reach as many citizens as possible, these institutions rely on support from larger banks. And this is where ARB Apex Bank PLC aims to make a difference.
Michael Appiah explains: “Rural and community banks are typically located far from cities and financial centers, so often struggle to access high-performance, dependable banking infrastructure. For example, some rely on siloed legacy systems and manual processes, which limits their ability to develop and offer innovative services and stay up to date with national compliance rules.”
Crucially, many rural and community banks lacked the ability to monitor customer transactions in real time—generating significant risk. With new regulations in Ghana set to come into force requiring real-time transaction screening, the bank set out to help.
ARB Apex Bank PLC planned to offer a new set of services that would help the smaller banks keep pace with the regulatory change. Alongside this, the bank aimed to provide enhanced core banking functionality to client banks, along with the capabilities for them to launch digital banking services to reach a wider range of citizens.
Taking a centralized approach
To deliver the new suite of core banking, digital banking, and fraud prevention solutions to rural and community banks, ARB Apex Bank PLC teamed up with Temenos. The bank decided to build a centralized banking platform powered by Temenos Core Banking with Financial Inclusion capabilities, Temenos Digital Banking Platform and Temenos Financial Crime Management (FCM).
“One of the main reasons we selected Temenos Core Banking is because it offers a multi-tenancy environment, as we are aiming to support well over one hundred banks, we would need to provide secure, dedicated transaction processing resources for each bank. We considered a wide range of vendors and found that only Temenos was able to meet our needs, while also providing excellent reliability and performance.”Michael Appiah, Head of Operations at ARB Apex Bank
Today, ARB Apex Bank uses the Temenos solutions to support 147 rural and community banks, which have a combined total of 850 branches. ARB Apex Bank delivers core and digital banking services to these client banks through its secure private cloud environment based in Accra as one of the largest data centers in Ghana. Rural and community banks connect via radio, VSAT and fibre networks to send and receive transactions in real-time. ARB Apex Bank PLC also leverages Temenos FCM to help its clients monitor transactions as they happen.
Michael Appiah adds: “Temenos and its delivery partners Inlaks and TextGenesis were very helpful throughout the implementation, from installing and configuring our core banking solution to deploying the mobile and online banking tools. If we ever encounter an issue, Temenos are always on hand to provide a fast resolution. They’ve even gone the extra mile to help to ensure that we satisfy the unique regulatory requirements of the Ghanaian banking sector.”
Driving digital innovation
Using Temenos Digital Banking Platform, ARB Apex Bank PLC is enabling rural and community banks to offer convenient, secure and reliable mobile banking that makes it easy for their end-customers to access vital financial services.
“We’re proud of the many innovations we’ve made with Temenos Digital Banking Platform,” says Michael Appiah. “For instance, we’ve made it possible for customers of rural and community banks to use mobile banking services, which means they no longer have to spend time travelling to a branch to send and receive payments. Similarly, we are working with social enterprises to create a field collection service that enable small business owners to deposit money with approved agents in community hubs like markets.”
“What’s more, we have helped rural and community banks to onboard customers more quickly, often cutting out the need for in-branch verification and authentication processes. Using Temenos Digital Banking Platform, we have cut time for our client banks to complete customer onboarding by over 75 percent, down from 2 hours to under 30 minutes—contributing to a better customer experience.”Michael Appiah, Head of Operations at ARB Apex Bank
Since rolling out the Temenos solutions, ARB Apex Bank PLC has seen significant growth in customer deposits among its client banks. Mobile and digital banking has proved especially popular among traditionally unbanked communities. As of December 2021, ARB Apex Bank is managing the equivalent of USD $900 million in deposits, and the bank expects this figure to rise as more customers sign up with client banks.
Enhancing regulatory compliance
The Temenos solutions have also helped ARB Apex Bank PLC to enhance regulatory compliance and financial crime monitoring in the rural and community banking sector.
“Temenos FCM has been a real game-changer for us,” explains Michael Appiah. “It enables us to send and monitor high volumes of transactions in real time while using up minimal network bandwidth. With Temenos FCM, we can maintain a high level of transparency into transactions to prevent fraud and other illegal activity, and ensure that smaller rural and community banks comply with stringent national regulations.”
Looking ahead, ARB Apex Bank PLC is exploring the possibility of moving its suite of Temenos solutions into the Temenos Banking Cloud—a move that will help to reduce operational IT costs and increase agility.
“We’re excited about the potential savings we could achieve with the Temenos Banking Cloud. We have built a very fruitful relationship with Temenos, and we are confident that we will continue to work closely on future projects. Our Temenos solutions are a crucial part of our success in bringing much-needed financial services to unbanked communities across Ghana.”Michael Appiah, Head of Operations at ARB Apex Bank