Tag: Absa

Did the banks collude with the Guptas?

Source: The Citizen 

The EFF has criticised South Africa’s major banks, calling them opportunistic and hypocritical “in their testimony given to the state capture inquiry”.

Standard Bank’s retired head of legal testified at the inquiry on Monday giving reasons that led the bank deciding to close the business accounts of the controversial Gupta family.

Former FirstRand Group – which First National Bank (FNB) is a division of – chief executive officer (CEO) Johan Burger is testifying at the commission today.

“These banks were very happy to do business with the Guptas until the unceremonious December 2015 removal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister when South African stocks were severely devalued,” the EFF said in a statement.

The red berets added that by the time of Nene’s axing, the Guptas and former president Jacob Zuma – who are commonly referred to as the Zuptas – were already carrying out corrupt activities “facilitated by the very same banks”.

The EFF said: “It is impossible that the banks only started to notice the suspicious transactions of the Guptas and their companies in 2016 as they now want us to believe.

“The truth is that these banks colluded in the looting of the country for as long as it was feeding into their profit maximisation motives and greed. These are the only driving forces behind the commercial banks. For them, it’s profit before people and the country.”

The party said it hopes the chair of the commission Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo would not be fooled by the testimony of the banks.

“We call on the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) and the Financial Intelligence Centre to launch a separate probe into the complicity of South African banks in the Gupta state capture and why they turned a blind eye towards an obviously suspicious transactions before 2016 and to hold them accountable for their part in state capture,” the EFF said.

The party added that if the Sarb fails to institute such a probe the party would take it upon itself to initiate a parliamentary probe into the matter.

Meanwhile, Burger testified on Tuesday that FNB had closed the accounts of the Guptas due to associated reputational and business risks.

Source: MyBroadband

MWEB and Absa clients have been targeted in a new e-mail phishing attack, where they are asked to open an attachment aimed at stealing their private information.

The email asks users to open an HTML attachment, which in turn opens a form in a browser which steals the victim’s personal details.

In the past, executable keyloggers were attached to emails to steal account information from victims.

However, most security services now block users from opening an attached executable file, as most of these files are malicious.

Scammers are now using HTML pages as attachments, where users are asked to provide their personal details in what appears to be a legitimate website.

In these scams, users are encouraged to open the attached email file, which opens in a browser and requests their username and password for a service.

This information is then sent to the criminal’s email address using a basic PHP script.

MWEB and Absa scam email
This is the method used in the latest email scam which is targeting MWEB and Absa clients.

The email, which claims to come from MWEB – but is sent from “info@mailsynk.co.za” – tells users that their “invoices and/or receipts and statement that you requested attached to this email”.

The attachment is the phishing page, which in this case uses the domain “jehovalchristofficeinternatona.co.za” to host the scripts.

Without looking at the HTML code, there are many warning signs that this is a scam email:

  • The email does not come from MWEB or Absa. It should be noted that an email which comes from an @mweb.co.za or @absa.co.za does not automatically mean it is authentic.
  • The email is poorly structured and contains poor grammar.
  • There is no personalisation in the email, with a user’s name or account details.
  • It mentions a PDF file, but the attachment is a .htm file.
  • Users are asked to provide their personal details to view a file – a clear sign it is a phishing attack.

South Africans love loyalty programmes

By Stephen Cranston for Financial Mail

According to research firm AC Nielsen, SA has the highest penetration of loyalty programmes anywhere, with almost two-thirds of the population belonging to more than one programme.

There are two broad categories of reward programmes in financial services. One is rewards for doing business, which would apply to all the bank programmes.

FNB’s eBucks has been the most successful of these (the eBuck itself was an online currency long before anyone had thought of bitcoin). The other bank programmes — Nedbank’s Greenbacks, Absa’s Rewards and Standard Bank’s UCount — have similar methodologies to eBucks.

Then there are the wellness programmes, which were pioneered in SA. Discovery Vitality is dominant in this sector, with Momentum Multiply in a respectable second place. They both encourage fitness, particularly through discounted gym membership.

Johan Moolman, head of eBucks, says the programme has paid out more than R10bn in its 18-year history.

Customers can spend these rewards on regular purchases such as groceries, fuel and airtime, or they can save them for Christmas gifts or travel,

To stay competitive the number of points needed to move to a higher level has reduced. The ability to accrue eBucks at level 5 is quite substantial, with a 3% accrual on credit card payments, 0.25% on cheque cards, and 15% discounts at Shoprite/Checkers, Gautrain and Uber, the airtime provider FNB Connect and even on FNB Life Cover.

Absa Rewards differs from eBucks in that it pays cash rather than a phantom currency. Head of Absa Rewards Sonja Fourie says Absa’s experience shows that it drives engagement. “Many loyalty programmes are engineered with an overriding goal to drive deals with partners. We need a shift so that programmes are engineered to drive value for the customer and provide the customer with a choice of where to use the rewards.”

Fayelizabeth Foster, the executive head of loyalty and rewards at Standard Bank, disagrees. She was one of the founders of Absa Rewards, but when she was hired to start Standard’s UCount programme five years ago she took a different approach.

“Just giving cash which then gets swallowed up by the monthly bills isn’t the best way to build up loyalty. It is better when a rewards programme gives you something specific that is important to you.”

This could mean a bucket-list holiday, or for example the opportunity to participate in crowd-funding for students.

Nedbank Greenbacks has been successful at encouraging its clients to use their points to buy unit trusts.

It enhances the value of Greenbacks by more than 20% for those who choose to buy unit trusts instead of goods.

The bank programmes do not have the paternalistic approach of Vitality which, for example, only gives discounts at Woolworths and Pick n Pay when it comes to paying for healthy foods.

Foster says UCount is more concerned about helping its clients through the month and pays back up to 20% of the shopping baskets at Pick n Pay and Woolworths. It includes nonfood items such as shampoo and washing powder.

It even has KFC as a partner as it believes that a monthly family treat is valuable for many of its clients.

Unlike its main competitors, UCount points expire after five years. Foster believes this boosts engagement as it forces customers to make an active choice about what to do with their rewards, as they don’t accumulate indefinitely.

Setting up these programmes is complex, time-consuming and expensive and it does not work for everyone.

In March 2017 Liberty cancelled its Own Your Life rewards programme. It was no longer considered to be aligned to Liberty’s strategic direction, with its focus on nice-to-haves such as car hire, accommodation and flight bookings.

Old Mutual has been conspicuous by its absence from rewards programmes, but Jean Minnaar, GM for customer solutions, says the new Old Mutual Rewards programme is being rolled out to staff. It is designed to encourage good financial habits: taking control of finances and working towards financial goals. It will be available even to people who do not own an Old Mutual product though, of course, the group plans to build up enough goodwill to win them over.

In contrast, its rival, Sanlam Reality, encourages people to take out as many products as possible from the life office and its strategic partners, such as Santam and Bonitas medical aid. Ultimately, these programmes would not be worthwhile if they did not add new business.

Absa takes a beating from fake news

From the propagation of Bell Pottinger’s white monopoly capital narrative to the new public protector’s CIEX report, political mischief and fake news have been tough on all the country’s banks — but Absa has taken the hardest beating.

According to the findings of the 2017 South African Banking sentiment index, compiled by BrandsEye, consumers were mostly disgruntled by the controversy around the bank’s purchase of Bankorp, demanding that it pay back the money the Reserve Bank had used to bail out the ailing apartheid-era bank.

The analysis, based on a sample of more than 1.8 million social media posts from about 500 000 unique authors between September 2016 and August this year, showed Absa was the worst performer with a net sentiment of -24.5%.

The posts were distributed to a proprietary crowd of vetted and trained local language speakers before being coded and verified by multiple crowd members, who assessed the sentiments of the posts.

Capitec had the highest net sentiment with 13.5%, followed by Nedbank with a score of -5.8%, Standard Bank with -6% and FNB with -7.6%.

Absa’s score had dropped from -11.3% in 2016, with 32.2% of its negative sentiment attributed to the release of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report on the Bankorp saga.

Mkhwebane had recommended that Absa pay back R1.125-billion, but Absa maintained that it had met its duties relating to its purchase of Bankorp.

In July 2017 it launched a high court application for the review and setting aside of Mkhwebane’s findings and remedial action, but the damage to Absa’s reputation appears to have been done by then.

Jeremy Sampson, founder of Interbrand and veteran brand specialist, said Absa had fallen victim to a white monopoly capital agenda pushed by the defunct PR firm to the Gupta family, Bell Pottinger.

“The whole Bankorp thing from 20-odd years ago doesn’t seem to go away. I think Absa would argue that it was raised again [this year] by people who are being mischievous,” he said.

The Bankorp issue had been used as ammunition against the bank by people seeking to be “divisive” and “sow dissent”, Sampson said.

“Certainly there is a lot of mischievousness going on at the moment and it’s made that much easier because of social media,” he said.

Patrice Rassou, head of equities at Sanlam Investment Management, said few people properly understood the Bankorp matter but many were willing to drag Absa’s name through the mud online over it.

“For very political reasons the whole thing has been amplified on the internet and people have taken this at face value. It’s not a South African issue, it’s a global issue of fake news,” he said.

“You just have to have one tweet on something and people take it as fact when these things are firstly contentious, unproven and in a court of law [the accuser] is likely to lose.”

Rassou said corporates such as Absa were not equipped to rebut the “guerrilla warfare” seen online in which “the enemy is faceless”.

Overall the banking sentiment index did not find that banks had suffered negative sentiment driven by other matters related to the Guptas, but that consumers were more concerned with good governance than they had been in previous years.

“South Africans are holding their banks to higher standards now. If banks make a claim, and fail to match it, customers will call them out on this,” said Tania Benade, head of analytics at BrandsEye.

But Absa also received many negative complaints when it came to its services, such as the turnaround time on receiving credit cards and its R120 credit card replacement fee.

Absa had 15.6% more complaints related to branches than to online banking.

Included in the sentiment index was the net experience effect metric, which takes the net promoter scores of the banks, based on the likelihood of customers and non-customers to recommend a particular bank to others, to quantify the impact of customer experience on brand opinion. Capitec’s net experience effect exceeded those of the other banks, followed by FNB, Nedbank, Standard Bank and Absa.

Customer experience specialist and researcher Julia Ahlfeldt said that most consumers were unhappy with the basic “hygiene factors”, such as in-branch experience, app bugs and call-centre waiting periods.

“Most of the banks put time and energy into promotions and loyalty programmes but were unable to live up to their brand promise.

“Every time they do that it chips away at people’s perceptions of the brand.”

Ahlfeldt said that the average net promoter score for the industry in the US exceeded that of South Africa’s five retail banks, with the US being a highly competitive market.

But Rassou said that globally, perceptions around banks had always taken a negative slant, with banking services viewed as a grudge purchase by consumers. “Absa was seen as the leader in retail banking if you go back about 10 years ago but has lost a lot of market share to a number of other players, not just Capitec,” he said.
Barclays Africa, which owns Absa, had seen its share price drop 4.06% in the sentiment index’s review period, while Capitec’s grew by 22.78%.

“I think in the case of Absa, they’ve really suffered in terms of very low risk appetite. Absa has got the lowest market share in unsecured lending, which has been the big area of growth,” Rassou said.

Adrian Cloete, a PSG Wealth portfolio manager, said the valuations investors were prepared to pay when they traded in a company’s shares could indicate investor sentiment.

Based on this metric, “market participants are more optimistic about Standard Bank’s and [FNB owner] FirstRand’s future prospects,” he said.

Absa declined to comment without seeing the full index.

Source: 4-Traders

UK banking group Barclays Group has made firm its intention to sell its 62,3% stake in Barclays Africa Group (formerly Absa).

The global banker listed as part of its rationale for the sell-down that, despite a strong returns profile locally, Absa’s contribution is significantly diluted at Barclays Group level.

The bank also carries 100% responsibility with only 623% benefits, it said at its results presentation.

Barclays said the sell-down will lead to further simplification of the group, resulting in cost reductions.

Barclays said it intends selling its African business over the coming two to three years “to a level which will permit us to deconsolidate it from an accounting and regulatory perspective”.

The intended sale is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

Barclays Group said Absa is a well-diversified business and a high quality franchise.

“However the stake in BAGL presents specific challenges to Barclays as owners, such as the level of capital held in respect of BAGL, the international reach of the UK Bank Levy, the GSIB buffer, and MREL/TLAC and other regulatory requirements.”

Barclays Gropup Africa on Tuesday reported a 17% return on equity for 2015 in its standalone local currency results versus the 8,7% return reported for Africa Banking in Barclays’ results, the group said.

Source: www.fin24.com

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