New I&M CEO Bairstow outlines transformative future for the bank 

The newly appointed CEO of I&M Bank Uganda, Robin Bairstow, has revealed that the bank has embarked on a robust technology transformation agenda to drive future growth.

He adds that the bank has invested heavily in the scaling up of infrastructure and architecture to ensure flexibility and smooth running of the bank.

Bairstow made the outlines on Thursday during his first engagement with the press, at Serena Hotel.

The strategy, outlined by Bairstow, involves a partnership with technology leader Mastercard, for the launch of a suite of debit and multi-currency prepaid cards to enable customers make seamless transactions in both domestic and international markets.

The card project commenced this weekend with a first batch of debit cards going out to the bank’s customers.

“We are in the first phases of debit cards alone. Our plan is to move to credit cards and multi-currency prepaid cards which has been a huge success across our footprint in East Africa,” he said.

According to Bairstow, the cards come with a range of benefits that are attached to them including traveling insurance.

“There are elements like traveling insurance. Even when you’re applying for a Shanghai visa, the traveling insurance that we provide that is based on the card is eligible for traveling insurance, and it’s free to the user. We cover travel insurance for you with that.”

He also noted that they are working on other products like having a blockchain powered mobile-money wallet to enhance seamless transactions.

“It gives you free access to completely integrated mobile money services…It helps us move the bank from our premises to your home, your computer. It also makes us a more universal bank like we have been in the past.” Bairstow observed.

Sustainability agenda

Beyond the technology transformation plan, Bairstow says I&M has also embarked on providing new services and products to support the environmental sustainability agenda.

This according to him, is being done through sourcing green finance and advocating for lending to projects that have a good impact on the environment.

“So, its not doing windfall; solar, hydro electric; I am talking about tea plantations and increasing production with minimized level of emissions, and irrigation for farmers which allows them to increase yields. Those are some of the things that we want to drive together with the International Finance Corporation,” Bairstow says.

He adds that besides I&M recapitalizing in terms of local legislation, they have pumped significant amount of money into the economy this year through the investments they have made in terms of increasing share capital.

Bairstow expressed optimism that the outlined investment strategies will give them a launching pad to regaining their position in the market.

Moving forward, he says the bank will be looking for more linkages and partnerships with local companies, for future growth.

Who is Robin Bairstow, the new CEO behind I&M Bank’s robust growth strategy?

Robin Bairstow joined I&M Bank Uganda as the CEO, effective October 2023. Previously, he served as the CEO of I&M Bank Rwanda since 2015.

During his tenure in Rwanda, he achieved remarkable growth and success including the trebling of total assets to RWF 491.3 billion and growth in pre-tax profits to RWF 13.4 billion. Robin also oversaw I&M Bank Rwanda’s listing on the Rwanda Stock Exchange in 2017.

Before joining I&M Group, Bairstow held senior leadership positions at various financial institutions including Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank NA, BOE Bank, and Nedbank. His roles spanned across Central & East Africa and South-East Asia, highlighting his versatile expertise in navigating complex financial landscapes.

A graduate of the South African Merchant Naval Academy, Bairstow holds a Diploma in Business Management from the Institute of Business Management.

He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the University of Leicester.

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