South Africa can expect at least three big new banking options within the coming months – all of which will be entering a highly competitive market.
A poll conducted in August by BusinessTech, generating over 10,000 responses found that Capitec is far and away the bank most South Africans would switch to, garnering 44% of the votes.
Capitec said recently that it has added 400,000 customers since February 2017 to become the second biggest bank in the country by this metric.
Its success has forced South Africa’s other banks to compete more effectively, and has led to Absa and FNB in particular to launch entry-level accounts that target Capitec’s market approach.
However, Capitec will soon face stiff new competition of its own, through Patrice Motsepe’s Tyme which promises to cause ‘disruption’ of its own through a digital play.
Tyme joins insurance giant Discovery, which also plans to launch a commercial bank, while government has plans for a retail offering of its through the South African Post Office – all of which are expected to launch sometime between now and late 2018.
Each offering brings with it unique features which could entice customers from the current “big five”.
Billionaire Patrice Motsepe made headlines last week after he announced that he was set to challenge South Africa’s biggest banks with investment company African Rainbow Capital (ARC) close to securing a banking license.
Tyme was granted a provisional license by the South African Reserve Bank in 2016, with Johan van der Merwe, co- CEO of African Rainbow Capital stating that the company expected a full licence before the end of September.
“The South African banking environment is due for a bit of disruption,” said van der Merwe.
“While Capitec has been able to play that role, the soon-to-be-licensed lender will be a disruption over and above that. This will be a complete game changer.”
“The regulator is looking at the cloud-based system that ARC’s fintech partner is using to make sure it works before granting a full licence,” he said.
Tyme is reportedly signing up 5,000 new customers each week, following the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s acquisition for a reported AU$40 million.
Arguably, Tyme’s biggest asset is its in-house developed “know your customer” KYC accreditation solutions.
These allow customers to open a simple bank account over their mobile phone, and open an unrestricted bank account from a remote location instead of having to enter a bank branch.
This form of unrestricted account access and cloud-based solutions is likely to tie-in with African Rainbow Capital’s July announcement that it invested in 20% of fixed and mobile data network operator Rain.
In March 2017, Discovery said that it had received authorisation from the Registrar of Banks to establish banking operations in South Africa, and is on track to launch its banking products next year.
Discovery CEO, Adrian Gore first announced plans for a retail bank in 2015, and stated that it would act as a direct competitor to Absa, FNB, Nedbank, Capitec, and Standard Bank.
The insurer has reportedly seen great success with its Discovery Card joint venture with FNB, which would provide a launch pad for full banking services.
“We’ve got the capital, we’ve hired bankers, we’re building substantial systems. We want to make an offering that’s relevant and can win market share,” said Gore.
Discovery has an advantage over the big four traditional banks, as it does not have to maintain a country-wide network of branches and ATMs. This means Discovery Bank’s costs have the potential to be lower than its competitors.
Former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan also believes that the technology available to Discovery could make it a major disruptor in the financial sector as it uses its vast resources and lower cost base to offer clients lower banking fees and better interest rates.
The South African Post Office
While not as eye-catching as Tyme or Discovery, the South African Post Office (SAPO) could prove to be a large disruptor in the financial sector because of its ease of accessibility.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in May, telecommunications minister Siyabonga Cwele said that the Post Office’s transition into a development bank will be government’s first big step in “radically transforming the financial sector and challenging the current banking institutions”.
“It’s not going to be a normal bank like the big four. It’s going to be a developmental bank to deal with the market that is not being served at the moment,” said Cwele.
He added that, despite the higher risks involved, the Post Office will also look at funding entrepreneurs with small loans.
“We are going to need a very strong risk management system. The issue of financial inclusion is part of radical economic transformation. We are not talking about reckless access to finance.”
Current SAPO CEO Mark Barnes will likely head up the new bank, which is expected to become a fully-fledged consumer bank sometime in 2018.
The bank could also be bolstered massively should it acquire the rights to distribute social grants to over 17 million South Africans from SASSA.