Home ECONOMY What keeps Kenyan Banks’ executives up at night?

What keeps Kenyan Banks’ executives up at night?

by biasharadigest

Executives of Kenyan Banks are not worried about record-breaking profits or improving financial access for their customers, they are most concerned about complying with the long list of regulations set by the industry regulator. This is according to Barclays Bank’s Director of Strategy, Moses Muthui.

“For any C-Suite, running a commercial enterprise comes in third, fourth, or five, generating sufficient return for shareholders, there’s an army of people dealing with that. But the C-Suite cannot operate in a way that the Bank is not {compliant}….and certainly the cost of compliance has really heightened,” says the Barclays Bank official.

The Head of Kenyan Bankers Association, Habil Olaka, agrees that regulations are some of the primary concerns of every Bank CEO. Habil notes that the regulatory environment in Kenya is rather unpredictable.

“The fact that you could wake up in the morning and by the end of day there is a law that has been passed that could affect your business substantially, and you have not had a chance to contribute to the law can be fairly frightening,” says the Bankers Association boss.

Banks are some of the most regulated entities in Kenya. The laws are necessary to protect consumers from exploitation and unwarranted losses. Moses agrees that a certain level of regulation is essential. He is not in favor of deregulation, “Deregulation comes with certain short term risks. It could mean banks just go rogue and we could end up with a situation like the {financial crisis} in 2008,” says Moses.

On the other hand, overregulation hinders innovation. Management teams become preoccupied with compliance instead of focusing on growth and development.

According to Vishal Agarwal, the CEO of Full Circle Africa, some of the guidelines are rather outdated – given the digital era we live in. Vishal says that demands by banks that customers provide physical addresses and copies of passport photos do not reflect the modern age of biometric scans and artificial intelligence.

The Kenya Bankers Association regularly engages industry enforcers such as the Central Bank, National Treasury, and Parliamentarians with the aim of influencing the way they formulate laws. Bankers wish that the regulators can keep up with the evolving technology and allow more room for innovation.

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