LET’S STOP THE PANIC NOW!
Afew weeks ago, some unscrupulous persons composed some malicious messages and started circulating same on social media, announcing the doom of Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) in the country. Because of the immediacy effect of social media, malicious messages spread very fast.
Within a short time, customers had started queueing in front of some RCBs, requesting for their deposits. The situation escalated so fast that it led to a run on some of our banks, to the extent that, one particular RCB had to pay out more than GH¢1.0 million in customer deposits in a single day.
A bank run occurs when a large number of customers of a bank or other financial institutions withdraw their deposits simultaneously over concerns of the bank’s insolvency. As more people withdraw their funds,the probability of default increases, prompting more people to withdraw their deposits. In extreme cases, the bank’s reserves may not be sufficient to cover the withdrawals, the result is a collapse.
One could imagine what a small RCB would be going through if it had to pay out large sums of deposits in a short time. Not even the large, High Street universal banks would be able to honour large requests for customer deposits for a sustained period.
Banks sometimes act like post offices. They receive deposits from customers and invest some of those deposits in various types of assets with different maturity dates.
Therefore, if just overnight, as a result of some false or fake news, customers begin to besiege the premises of RCBs requesting for their deposits, we can all imagine what would happen to such banks.
We know that social media is a very powerful communications tool. It is relatively cheap, fast and sometimes, real time.
While there are gatekeepers to edit false content from traditional news, anybody can compose any message anywhere and start circulating through social media, sometimes with very damaging consequences and there is nothing to sift through such news and edit out the malicious component.
It is imperative to stress that the RCBs are the true champions of micro-credit in the rural areas and the eternal vanguards of rural financial intermediation in the country.
Their shareholders, directors, management, staff, and customers are intricately linked to the rural areas in which they operate. That interconnectedness is reflected in the names borne by most of the banks; the names of the communities in which they operate.
They interact with the local economy daily and their assets are nurtured with and shared by the rural folks.
When an RCB becomes insolvent and eventually folds up, the resultant consequences in the rural economy are hurtful.
Social media has come to stay. Let us use this progressive medium to promote the value the RCBs are bringing to the rural economy. Let us use it to promote the jobs the banks have created, the businesses they are supporting and the many corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes they are promoting.
Let us stop the panic-mongering now!