Real-time service promised

2011-05-28 00:00

IT is no coincidence that the rapidly growing retail bank Capitec attracted a great deal of attention and praise for its bold decision taken recently to launch permanent Sunday trading at 84 of its 460 branches nationwide.

Consumers have never really warmed to South African banks and this is, for the most part, understandable when one considers the various­ debacles over banking fees and other contentious issues that South Africans have seen. However, it seems that Capitec has made a conscious decision to counter these conceptions by marrying innovative technology with simplicity and flexibility.

Carl Fischer, marketing and corporate affairs executive, told Weekend Witness that this philosophy cuts across all aspects of the business.

“From the outset, the Capitec model is something unique and special in banking. Traditionally, banking has been very structured and inflexible. Our aim has been to make it as simplified and easy as possible for clients to use.

“We have used technology to remove a lot of the administration, logistics and security risks from banking.”

The technology to which Fischer makes reference is biometric technology, in the form of a fingerprint and photograph-identity system that enables clients to receive real-time service.

“For example, credit checking can be done immediately, as you sit with a consultant. You don’t have to wait for lengthy periods­ of time for approval.”

The biometric technology has been described by Capitec as a world-first for the industry.

Banking fees are perhaps the most contentious of all topics in the sector.

Fischer, who contends that Capitec’s (on average) fees are half that of other banks — says that simplicity is their mantra in this regard.

“We charge a fixed fee on each transaction. It doesn’t vary like certain banks.

“Having said that, we are of the view that drawing cash is one of the most expensive and risky means to transact. We therefore encourage the use of non-cash methods.

“If you’re buying something, rather use your card. We don’t charge a fee for using your card. If you must draw cash, rather draw at a retail outlet.”

Capitec also charges a flat administration fee, and the same applies to debit orders and payments to other accounts.

This simplified system makes it easier for consumers to choose their banking products and services.

With 75 branches already in KwaZulu-Natal — including three in Pietermaritzburg and two more in the pipeline in the city — it is not surprising­ that this fast-growing bank boasts almost three million active clients across South Africa.

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