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BoU Urges Banks To Innovate As Orient Bank Officially Becomes I&M Bank

The BoU Deputy Governor, Michael Atingi-Ego (L) handing over the banking license to Kumaran Pather, the Managing Director / CEO of I&M Bank (Uganda) Limited.

Orient Bank has officially become I&M Bank (Uganda) Limited. This is after the Bank of Uganda (BoU) handed over the banking license to I&M Bank (Uganda) Limited. The license was handed over to I&M Bank management by Michael Atingi-Ego, the BoU Deputy Governor.

I&M Group Plc became the major shareholder, with a 90 percent stake, in April 2021.

Having started in 1993, the precursor, Orient Bank (U) Ltd, has 14 branches and 14 ATMs across the country, serving corporate, SME, and retail clients.

Speaking at the license handover  event, Atingi-Ego urged banks to become innovative, saying that the innovative championing of digitalization made Orient Bank outstanding and remains one of the most attractive aspects in a world of technology-driven banking.

“We anticipate that the enhanced financial muscle and cross-border banking pedigree brought on by the I&M Group that has subsidiaries across east Africa will substantially power the bank to its next evolution,”  Atingi-Ego said.

He added: “Naturally, Orient Bank, the forerunner of I&M Bank, has not succeeded in a vacuum. It has done well because the regulator, the banking sector, and the economy have also done well, for the majority of the last 28 years. Credible macroeconomic management, sound legal and regulatory policies, political stability, and an improving business environment have been key enablers along the way.”

He said although there’s a strong partnership between the Bank of Uganda and the banking sector, the central bank is a serious supervisor that sets high prudential standards.

“We impose tough prompt corrective actions, where required, to secure the stability of the banking system and safeguard the interests of depositors,” he said, adding: “Even as we occasionally take tough action, we fundamentally believe in working with the banking industry, never against it. It is only through working with you as a bank and with the Uganda Bankers Association that, together, we will entrench a vibrant and competitive banking sector.”

He noted that the spirit of working together was demonstrated when the banking industry and stakeholders, with BoU’s leadership, undertook decisive measures to sustain electronic transactions, relieve individual and SME borrowers, among others, and maintain financial sector stability amidst the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic and shutdown of the economy.

The comprehensive package of emergency measures and credit relief in a difficult period of widespread financial stress was achieved together in a spirit of cooperation, he said.

“Be that as it may, the credit relief measures expired in their broad scope at the end of September 2021; although they were sustained, on a case-by-case basis, for the sectors that remain shut down e.g., the contact intensive education, entertainment, and tourism,” he said, adding: “Accordingly, the banking sector should take appropriate and innovative measures to minimize the risks associated with unwinding the pandemic related concessions to borrowers and containing the financial strife facing the contact-intensive sectors, as the country works its way gradually towards the safe reopening of the economy.”

He further added: The old idiom, “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” evokes the belief that no matter what the situation, a hero appears who can turn the tide and win. For Orient Bank, the hero came, saw and conquered, at a time of “a crisis like no other”. That hero is the I&M Group Plc, which completed the share-sale transaction and changed to the new name. And so, I am most pleased to hand over this banking license to I&M Bank (Uganda) Limited.”

Taddewo William Senyonyi
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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