Orient Bank is one of the leading commercial banks in Uganda that commenced operations in 1993. Mr. Ketan Morjaria is one of the founders of Orient Bank and current Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. We spoke to him about his future and that of the bank. Below are some of the excerpts.
There has been increased competition in the banking sector – How has Orient Bank responded to the competition?
We have continued to do what we have always done by providing a better and faster service to our customers. We have continued our aggressive branch expansion by opening up new branches in strategic locations throughout the country. We recently opened Kololo branch to enable our customers to enjoy “traffic free” banking outside the congested centre of Kampala.
A second branch in the heart of Jinja town has also been opened and I believe this is a first for any bank to have more than one branch in an upcountry town. We have also continued to expand our innovative product portfolio which has positioned us strategically in our niche markets by providing banking solutions that exceed our customer expectations. The most recent example of this is the introduction of the highly regarded KIU Tuition loan. Refurbishment for all our branches is currently ongoing to improve on our image, look and feel as well customer ambience.
Has the increased competition affected the bank’s performance?
Yes, it has though our profits are up by over 20% for the year to date compared to the same period last year. Our customer numbers have also grown from 29,000 to over 45,000 now and the bank’s liquidity position is very strong and we are focussed on looking for more lending opportunities.
On this note let me add that we are also developing agricultural products because we believe agriculture is the backbone of growth for the economy.
Can you comment on the issues affecting the bank’s majority shareholder?
Orient Bank is a stand alone subsidiary not impacted by events elsewhere other than in this market. We have a strong and loyal customer base and we are regulated by Bank of Uganda (BOU) who are in control of the banking industry in Uganda. The issues affecting our major shareholder affected the industry as a whole and are being addressed by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The CBN has publicly committed to ensuring the stability of the Nigerian banking sector and there is no reason to expect it to adversely affect Orient Bank which has been successfully operating in Uganda for 15 years.
What are the future plans for Orient Bank Limited?
Our future plans are very aggressive. We shall continue with our retail branch expansion and intend to open three more branches this year and early next year. These include Kabalagala, Garden City and Arua as well as other locations which are currently being assessed. We will soon be introducing Visa Credit Card and upgrading our internet and SMS Banking product to “real time” operations.
We also intend to introduce more features on our SMS banking service such as money transfer and bill payment facilities. The bank is looking forward to expanding its presence in the region i.e. Kenya, Tanzania the DRC and Southern Sudan. This has always been an important part of Orient Bank’s vision and plans are already well advanced to achieve this aim.
Do you still have an active role to play in OBL?
I am still a very active member of the Board of Directors as Vice Chairman and I will continue playing an important role on the various board committees. I see our customers as part of my family and as such my door is always open. I envisage a very exciting future for the bank which I fully intend to be part of.
What is your opinion on the future for Uganda?
The future for the Ugandan economy is very bright especially with the discovery of oil and the revival of the East African Community. The increased competition in the banking sector to over 21 banks means not only increased bank choice but also better products and services for the Ugandan people.
All in all, I am very optimistic about this economy and I look forward to continuing contributing to its growth.