African Bank takes foot off the pedal

Drops cus­tomer tar­get fig­ures as it now op­er­ates ‘in a very dif­fer­ent SA’ than when plans were drawn up

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - DINEO FAKU [email protected]

AFRICAN Bank has moved to set a re­al­is­tic tar­get for its cus­tomer base, due to South Africa’s lack­lus­tre eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment, and has re­vised it down to 1.7 mil­lion cus­tomers in 2021 com­pared with a pre­vi­ous goal of reach­ing 2.5 mil­lion.

African Bank’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Bu­sani Maluleke, said yes­ter­day: “We made the change, be­cause the ini­tial tar­get had been set in 2016, and 2016 was a dif­fer­ent time.

“Many of you would agree that we live in a very dif­fer­ent South Africa than what we were in 2016. The fact that our gross do­mes­tic prod­uct growth is pedestrian at best, the po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty, the in­creas­ing lev­els of com­pe­ti­tion, all of th­ese things to­gether have led us to re­con­sider what is a much more of a re­al­is­tic tar­get.”

Maluleke said the group’s cus­tomer base had de­clined for the first two years af­ter the bank’s cu­ra­tor­ship, as it had adopted a con­ser­va­tive risk ap­petite, which meant that the group could not lend to the same cus­tomers as it pre­vi­ously did.

“We are proud this has be­gun to turn around, and we have seen an in­crease in our cus­tomer num­bers, and we ex­pect this to ac­cel­er­ate with the launch of the MyWorld ac­count,” said Maluleke.

The group said the MyWorld ac­count, which was launched in May 2019, sig­nalled a new phase in the bank’s growth.

African Bank’s group ex­ec­u­tive for dig­i­tal and trans­ac­tional bank­ing, Ge­orge Rous­sos, who was also at the event, said 100 000 MyWorld ac­counts had been opened since the launch.

“Our as­pi­ra­tions for 2020 are a good 200 per­cent growth at least. We are aim­ing at around 25 000 cus­tomers a month. We will out­per­form for 2020,” said Rous­sos.

The group said the fi­nan­cial high­lights for the year in­cluded the 11 per­cent in­crease in op­er­at­ing profit to R1.15 bil­lion af­ter tax.

African Bank re­ported a 115 per­cent growth in re­tail de­posits to R2.4bn from R1.1bn in 2018. Net profit af­ter tax for the year was up 13 per­cent to R1.15bn from R1.02bn in 2018.

How­ever, the group said its net pro­moter scores (NPS), which mea­sured cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, was dis­ap­point­ing. The group said that its cus­tomer NPS had de­clined to 39 from 43 in 2018, due to the launch of the group’s dig­i­tal chan­nels.

“We have learnt les­sons. With any­thing new that you do there will be teething prob­lems. You will learn a lot. We are learn­ing a lot and we are mak­ing the changes that are nec­es­sary to give our cus­tomers a bet­ter cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, and we ex­pect to re­port a bet­ter ra­tio next year,” Maluleke said.

African Bank has in­tro­duced voice an­a­lyt­ics soft­ware that helps to mine and an­a­lyse au­dio data, de­tect­ing emo­tion, tone and stress in a cus­tomer’s and con­sul­tant’s voice. The com­pany said 29 data sci­en­tists, who were en­rolled in its DataDis­[email protected] in Jan­uary, would join the com­pany in Jan­uary 2020 to help in the use of data science.

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