"With a balance sheet of over US$ 1 billion, TMB has the ability to meet the financing requirements of most companies operating in Congo. For larger loans we can offer syndicated facilities with the participation of international partners."

Yannick Mbiya Ngandu

DIRECTOR, TRUST MERCHANT BANK (TMB) DRC

November 04, 2020

How has TMB’s role in the DRC developed since its establishment in 2004?

In the 16 years since its establishment, TMB has grown from being a new entrant to becoming the DRC’s leading universal bank. Today, we are home to some one in five bank accounts in the country and we offer an unrivalled network with over 110 branches located in some 36 cities right across the Congo.

TMB is the only commercial bank in the DRC to be headquarted in Lubumbashi, the country’s mining capital, as opposed to Kinshasa. We have developed regional hubs, in Goma, Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, which host a number of support functions, including loans teams. As a result, our clients have rapid access to decision makers, which speeds up response times to client queries and loan applications. Our footprint has allowed us develop an unrivalled knowledge of and insight into the potential of the country. This local intelligence is proving invaluable when helping clients navigate challenges and opportunities when doing business in the DRC.

From the outset, TMB has been a pioneer when it comes to the digital revolution in banking. We were the first bank to launch mobile banking services in the DRC, and our newly upgraded online banking service is industry-leading. All our digital services are available in English as well as French.

Looking at the mining sector itself, which accounts for 15% of our loan portfolio, we bank the entire value chain, and in particular SMEs that supply into larger mining operators. TMB’s offers in the areas of payroll and invoice management services, and alternative financing solutions are especially relevant to larger mining corporates. Today, TMB is one of the largest financiers of private sector businesses in the DRC.

How easy is it to obtain a competitively priced loan in the DRC to start a company?

The Congolese banking sector is highly competitive and very liquid - good loan propositions should have no difficulty attracting funding. The DRC economy is largely dollarized and most corporate lending is US$ denominated.

Funding costs for banks are high – US$ term deposits will attract annual interest rates of 5%-6% for example. Interest rates on loans reflect this elevated cost of funding and vary according to a number of parameters, including economic sector, loan size, tenor and available collateral, but on average will range between 8% and 15%. 

With a balance sheet of over US$1 billion, TMB has the ability to meet the financing requirements of most companies operating in Congo. For larger loans we can offer syndicated facilities with the participation of international partners.

TMB added leasing to its product portfolio in 2019, making us the first and to date only commercial bank in the DRC to offer leasing products. Thus far our focus has been on providing leasing solutions to the mining support, agri-business, and logistics sectors, with this financing solution proving to be very popular with our clients.

How does TMB address the infrastructural deficit nationwide as the bank with the highest number of branches across Congo?

The country’s infrastructural deficit is one of the main challenges a bank faces when operating in the DRC. Our response is to invest continuously in people, processes, hardware and software.

As mentioned, we maintain three regional hubs across the country. The hubs provide us with the capacity and capability to effectively manage our nationwide operations, and to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of both our clients and the growing organisation that is TMB. Our ability to deploy services in even the most remote parts of the country is unrivalled.

New technology is a crucial element in our response to the infrastructural deficit. Our multichannel distribution network includes a mobile banking product (PEPELE Mobile) that can be accessed on any of the DRC’s mobile networks. Solar energy solutions are helping power a number of our branches, and the Bank utilises satellite connections where necessary to ensure branch connectivity.

We are keenly aware that investment in rural and regional Congo is essential in order to support the delivery of new infrastructure. We see it as our responsibility to contribute to inclusive economic development and therefore we prioritise lending into the regions.

What is the current state of the Congolese economy with the ongoing pandemic?

The picture is mixed. Sectors that rely on the movement of people such as transport and tourism have been badly hit. The mining industry, which contributes 40% to the DRC’s GDP, was somewhat immune to the pandemic relative to other industries. Mining companies took the necessary measures to be able to continue production safely, and global commodity prices have remained broadly supportive.

The economies of the various provinces of the country have reacted differently to the COVID pandemic. Our nationwide presence and highly diversified balance sheet has benefited the Bank.

Given low infection rates in the country, the pre-existing and generally low level of mobility of the population, and resilience in a number of key sectors of the economy, notably mining and agriculture, I remain optimistic for the country’s prospects.

Where do you see TMB in five years?

In the upcoming five years, TMB will digitalise operations further. Banking with TMB will be even more straightforward, seamless and effortless, and new digital solutions will allow us to make even more time to be the relationship bankers that we endeavour to be.

Our footprint will continue to grow quickly as we develop our branch network further and continue with the rapid expansion of our agency banking network, which currently numbers more than 1,400. Meanwhile our portfolio of products and services will increase substantially, most notably in the areas of leasing and alternative financing solutions, mobile banking and insurance. The latter will be by means of a new subsidiary of TMB that, in 2020, acquired a licence to operate as a life insurance provider.

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