Thursday, September 14, 2006

Banking in SA

SA banking
What’s different about banking in South Africa? Absa is now apart of Barclays and I visited a branch to compare some major differences.

One significant difference between Kenya and South Africa banking is their (SA)recognition that banking is a necessary service which should be affordable. While Barclays is considered to be one of the more expensive banks to use in Kenya, Absa along with the other major SA banks have embraced mzansi which is a voluntary industry effort (financial services transfer charter) to offer accounts for the unbanked, poor, or low-income citizens. Kenya has an unregulated banking sector in which the only option for many such citizens is to seek a cheaper bank such as Co-operative or Equity banks.

Some uniquely Absa services unseen in Barclays Kenya include;
- Izokuphilisa or Absa micro loans of up to 8500 rand (about 85,000 shillings).
- Mzansi money transfers though which anyone (even non Absa customers) can use Absa to transfer up to 25,000 rand (250,000) shillings per month to anyone else
- Funeral savings plans
- Full Shari’ah banking including vehicle & asset financing as well as Absa Islamic will writing. (Barclays and KCB have both introduced Islamic banking in Kenya in the last year)
- SA banks sell insurance, something CFC and CBA would love to be able to do at their branches in order to maximise returns on their investments in the insurance industry. A sample Absa insurance plan guarantees additional payment of 50% if death occurs while one is a fare paying passenger on licensed public transport (i.e. matatu) . AIDS is also not a hindrance to obtaining an insurance policy.
- Absa internet access (AIA) for online account users and provides unlimited internet use at a monthly fee
- They have multilingual brochures – typical ½ brochure in English and the back half in Zulu, Afrikaans, or any of the other 11 official languages depending on the region of the country where the branch is located. In Kenya it’s rare to find brochures in any language other than English.
- On the other hand it is difficult to exchange foreign currency. Kenya has freed up exchange regulations allowing seamless transfers at forex bureaus and banks while in SA it requires one to show an ID (or passport) and answer a few questions.
- Security is less visible since there are no guards in the bank branches.

3 comments:

Kudrinketh said...

I hope Kenyan banks can borrow some leaf from SA, they seem to be tailored towards the customer unlike our banks who think they're doing you a favor!

I dont know about that cross selling stuff,i think kenyans are better without it.I did say some unsavoury remarks about the cross selling issue at my employer, but all in all,maybe i can say something nice about my employer.

One think i credit my employer is literally forcing me into investing.when i got hired back in 2002 i was "forced" to open a 401K,since the bank was matching. well, that's the best thing that ever happened to me coz i stated trading in the 401K,then bought stocks, then ETFs and ultimately FOREX trading(this one is not advisable unless you can afford to loose that money)

How did i do, the 401K turned out fine,gained and lost in the stock market,got burned badly in the FOREX trading( i was depressed for a month!)

So there goes, my employer is not that bad after all and they can do all the cross selling they want!

Moral of the story;stay away from FOREX trading.

bankelele said...

There are couple of companies now offering forex trading investment schemes in Nairobi - they market great returns, but rarely mention the risks.

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