R12bn put ‘under mattresses’ in SA

2010-09-07 15:07

The unbanked in South Africa have put about R12 billion “under mattresses”, the Banking Association of SA’s inaugural summit in Johannesburg has heard.

“It would have a massive impact if that money came into the market,” Brian Richardson, the CEO of mobile banking company Wizzit, told the summit.

While the problem of a large, unbanked population was not unique to South Africa, Richardson said it was “sad” that last year, the number of unbanked people increased.

“We seem to be going backwards and the economy and the global meltdown has been blamed.”

However, he said the key to getting more people to open bank accounts depended on affordability, accessibility and availability.

“We don’t have all the answers and if it was easy to bank the unbanked, everyone would be doing it.”

Richardson said banks could not be all things to all people and big banks would experience some difficulties in serving the informal market.

“Banks are highly formally structured organisations designed to serve a formal structured market so it’s not easy for them to deal with the chaos of the informal market.”

He said that when it came to mobile banking, South Africa was losing the race.

“Our system in countries like Zambia is far more successful.”

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