DAR ES SALAAM, June 20 (Reuters) - Tanzania's largest commercial bank, CRDB Bank, has started offering banking services through agents like shops and petrol stations, it said on Thursday, hoping to copy a model that has helped Kenyan lenders tap new customers and cut costs.
Although boasting east Africa's second largest economy and a population of 46 million, only 12.4 percent of Tanzanians have formal bank accounts, mainly due to lack of infrastructure, poverty and low literacy.
"Lack of extensive bank networks have denied many Tanzanians the valuable financial services provided by banks and hence slowed our development as a country," said Charles Kimei, managing director of the bank, in a statement.
Kenyan banks, which led the way in 2010 with agency banking, as the model is known, have managed to recruit more customers and to cut costs since agents use their own facilities, negating the need for a traditional bank branch.
CRDB said its agents, using a telephone based platform, will offer services like cash deposit and withdrawal, repayment of loans and payment of utility bills among others.
It has also reached an agreement with the Tanzania Postal Corporation to allow it to distribute banking services through its extensive network of post offices across the country.
CRDB, which has over 85 outlets in Tanzania, spent $10 million to establish operations in neighbouring Burundi last December. (Wrting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Mark Potter)