Cover story

The people's bank

Capitec now has more customers than any other bank. How did it manage this?

07 June 2024

Andy Baker

Why is one bank more successful than another, and why are some growing faster than others? After all, many are going after the same kinds of customers, and all of them have access to the same technologies, and, in many cases, staff. That slippery term “culture” is as important in a bank as in any industry, and, it seems, is a differentiator. One example is how easy it is to make decisions, and how quickly they can be acted upon. The number of decision- makers, and committees, will probably have some bearing on this. Technology is also a differentiator, both that which is customer-facing, and in the background. And while digital banking is growing – more than 18 million South Africans are now said to be making use of at least one digital channel – the value of the branch network cannot be underplayed.

More than a third of South Africans now bank with Capitec, or around 22.2 million people, it says. This means it’s now the country’s biggest bank by customer numbers. It reported this February that headline earnings had grown 16% to R10.6 billion. It also boasts that it is “by far” the biggest digital bank, but also has the biggest branch footprint, at around 860. CEO Gerrie Fourie told BusinessLIVE that it has 14 million clients registered on its app, and 1.2 million people transacting on it daily. It’s spent more than R1 billion on the app’s development, and another R6 billion replatforming systems and migrating to AWS.

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