lines of Business and Digital Transformation
Personal Financial services (PFS)
As the Covid-19 pandemic situation continued to impact Mauritius through 2021, the Bank’s PFS segment, which provides banking services to individuals and SMEs, had to refocus on brilliant basics – i.e. ensuring that the business managed the health & safety of its people and customers through enhanced sanitary protocols across branches, while enabling customers to manage their personal finances and businesses through the very difficult times.
Enhanced activity management from the PFS team helped maintain a high level of customer engagement. This in turn enabled PFS to continue driving new business and delivering improved innovations into the market. PFS focused on mortgage driven growth and, as a result, its asset book grew by 12.92% against a 2.55% increase in the deposit book. Key to the mortgage growth was a new Eco home loan campaign, in collaboration with La Vallée de Ferney. This enabled the Bank to deliver a best-in-class mortgage proposition, while allowing customers to contribute positively to the management of the environment.
Proactive management of moratoriums and lower than expected delinquencies, helped keep the impairments position of the line of business at a low level.
The pandemic has hit the SME segment particularly hard, but the team worked extremely hard to support its customers and, as a result, was delighted to be awarded the “Best SME Bank” in Mauritius by Global Finance.
Building on the Bank’s shareholder cross border presence in Sub-Saharan Africa, the PFS team launched a new offshore banking proposition during the year. This won early recognition when the Elite PFS team won the “Best Mass Affluent Banking Offering” at the Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards in 2021, organised by Digital Banker.
The biggest story for the year, however, was the launch of POP in the fourth quarter – Mauritius’ first universal instant payment app. Building on the principles of open banking, POP enables customers from any bank that is part of the Bank of Mauritius’ central payment switch (MauCAS), to register on POP and avail free, instant payment to any other bank account in the country – be it a person, wallet or merchant. Users can link all their different bank accounts in the one POP app, split bills, recharge mobile and manage subscriptions. Merchants accepting POP benefit from a materially lower interchange cost, that it can use to provide enhanced value to customers, create loyalty and improve the bottom-line. Further developments are planned for POP.
Corporate Banking (CBD)
The domestic corporate market remains rather challenged by the pandemic, particularly all sectors relating to tourism. The opening of the borders in October will eventually feed through to a recovery but it will take time. Despite the pandemic, the textile and real estate segments are showing some signs of recovery. Textile has benefited from a global de-risking from China, while real estate has seen an upswing from buyers looking for a location offering some shelter from the pandemic as well as improved stability/security.
During the year, the business restructured its balance sheet and let go of expensive deposits and low return money market lines.
Corporate Banking is now well positioned to benefit from a return to more normal business conditions. The focus for the coming year will be to support its domestic clients, particularly in the real estate segment, as well as Mauritian businesses looking to do business in Africa.
International Banking (IBD)
The environment was characterised by numerous headwinds, triggered by continued global lockdowns, global supply chain disruptions, the Mauritius FATF listing, slow vaccine rollouts in key target markets, an extremely challenged credit environment and historically low interest rates.
Despite these significant challenges, IBD recorded a strong rebound to profitability.
Asset growth was selective due to the uncertain credit environment, and the focus was on growing fee income through trade and structured transactions.
On the liability side, the Bank conducted a review of its client base and exited customers with limited potential for growth.
During the year, IBD was recognised by CFI as the “Best Trade Finance Banking” in Mauritius and the Indian Ocean.
The core focus of the business is to work in collaboration with the Bank’s shareholders to develop its Sub-Saharan African franchise. As the global and regional markets reopen, the opportunities for IBD remain positive.
Private Banking and wealth management & securities (PBWM)
PBWM clientele includes High Net worth Individuals (HNWI), external Asset Managers, financial institutions, Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) and pension funds.
To enhance its offering and customer experience, further investments have been made to improve the custody platform. The weekly newsletter, introduced around the end of 2020, has also been enhanced to provide regular market updates to clients.
On the liability side, the business conducted a review of all clients and exited those presenting limited opportunities for growth.
During the year, PBWM was recognised as the “Best Private Banking in Mauritius” by Global Finance Magazine.
PBWM continues to grow both its personal and institutional customer base and is positive about the opportunities to grow its business alongside its shareholders in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The key challenge for Treasury has been the shortage of foreign currency on the market. This has been caused by the closure of the tourism sector for the past 18 months. The Bank of Mauritius (BOM) has actively intervened on the market and done a great deal to alleviate the worst impacts of the shortage, though it nevertheless remains very difficult to meet clients’ needs.
During the year, the MUR depreciated by over 9% against the dollar.
Interest rates have remained low and stable, and the market continues to be very liquid in MUR. It is likely, with rising inflation and a forecasted growth in global interest rates, there will be pressure on the upside for MUR rates to increase.
Treasury remains very focused on the Bank’s Sub-Saharan African strategy. It has launched Falcon, a new trading platform for customers, and is also expanding its African currency trading pairs.
The Bank remains very focused on its digital transformation journey and is implementing its largest ever investment programme.
The key remains digitising products and services, simplifying processes, and making available world class delivery channels for customers. Overarching the transformation change programme is a clear focus on data and analytics.
Key deliveries during the year were a new payments application for personal customers and an FX trading platform for financial institutions and corporates.
In 2022, the Bank will be delivering new mobile banking and internet banking capabilities, significant workflow improvements and a new cards platform.
The report focuses on the holistic process involved in the integrated risk management of the Bank and the resultant outcome that assists the Bank in reaching its strategic vision.
RISK DEFENCE MODEL
The Bank currently employs a three-level defence model whereby:
- Business lines take ownership of the risks from end to end.
- Independent risk oversight through the various empowered Risk functions.
- Internal Audit review and assurance.
The Bank continues to embed an objective-centric Enterprise Risk Management approach to ensure the Risk and Control functions add value to reaching the Bank’s strategic objectives.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Bank has sought to maintain the momentum of its sustainability strategy to support unprivileged communities and make a real difference to the environment of the island. key initiatives included :
- FOOD AND FINANCIAL RELIEF
- LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN