Back in the day when some blue chip local banks never took less than Sh30,000 in minimum deposits — keeping off hustlers — there came this financial outfit that took innovative banking to new heights.
It was Trade Bank operated by Alnoor Kassam and his brother, Iqbal Kassam. While microfinance institutions have simplified account operating procedures today, the Kassam brothers had long been there, done that with their money spinner then housed at Integrity Centre on Valley Road, Nairobi.
When snobbish blue chips required introduction letters, pay slips stretching six months, employment contracts and among other documents affidavits from lawyers, all a prospective customer took to Trade Bank were passport photos and the ID card.
No wonder its motto was “Hakuna Maneno!” (no hustles!) and business hustlers thronged Trade Bank in droves.
But the killer idea for this bank that sank, leaving depositors ‘crying in the toilet’ was its drive-in service of tellers serving clients from the comfort of their car.
Alas! insider trading with a run on deposits, investment in fixed assets accentuated its liquidity problems, placing Kenya’s ninth largest bank under liquidation in 1993-eight years after it opened shop.
Well, Alnoor Kassam left CID officers having tea in his house while he gassed to the airport and fled to Canada!