Lockdown placed additional stress on customers, particularly those in rural areas unable to reach the nearest branch or cash machine.
CB Bank’s solution was to reconfigure the six blue-and-yellow badged vans it uses as a backup when in-house ATMs at the big multinationals run out of cash – a regular occurrence given that most workers in Myanmar like to hold monthly earnings in their hands.
CB Bank sent the mini-fleet on a national tour, to cities and towns and to many of the country’s 70,000-plus villages. The idea was a success, with the vans acting as full-service mobile branches.
Each mobile lender erected a large blue tent wherever it parked and set out well-spaced seating for customers.
The effect the vans had was threefold. First, they prevented customers from clustering in a physical branch – making it harder for a single person to transmit coronavirus to anyone else. Second, they acted as a de facto social safe space where people could gossip and share news.
Finally, the vans did what banks do best, take deposits from and disburse cash to needy citizens.
“Many non-bank mobile agents were closed during the lockdown period,” CB Bank’s chief executive Kyaw Lynn tells Euromoney. “[We had to] strive to find ways to help customers with the services they needed most: cash in, cash out services and [access to] money remitted by their relatives working overseas.”
As CB Bank demonstrated during Covid-19, leadership doesn’t have to be about the grand gesture, often it means doing the simple stuff well.