Johannesburg - SA’s biggest retail bank, Absa Group
[JSE:ASA], has launched Transact, a simplified affordable banking account
likely to replace the government-initiated Mzansi account.
Transact is aimed at customers looking for a basic account,
which is easy to understand and cost-effective. It also offers a full bouquet
Arrie Rautenbach, head of retail markets at Absa, said
Transact customers would pay no monthly service fees. “No fees when purchasing
at till points. No Absa ATM balance enquiry fees. No fees on airtime top ups.
And no penalty fees,” he said.
“Transactions will be charged on pay-as-you-transact basis.
We have taken the banking services that are important to our entry level
SA’s big four banks have been steadily snubbing the Mzansi
account in the past 18 months, preferring to offer their own variations of the
They have been attracted to that segment of the market after
seeing alluring returns gained by Capitec Bank Holdings [JSE:CPI], SA’s fastest-growing
SA’s entry level market has 15 million unbanked people and
Capitec, was the first to tap into this when other bankers thought it was too
risky to do so.
Big banks moving fast
Steve Meintjes, a senior banking analyst at Imara SP Reid,
said that that Capitec’s strategy of targeting the entry level market had
compelled big banks to move fast into this market.
“When many big banks saw what Capitec could do, they moved.
This was a natural market evolution,” Meintjes said. “I think in a few years’
time, Mzansi will be seen to have had its job done. It will be over with it.”
The launch of the Mzansi account in 2005 was in line with a
commitment by the Financial Sector Charter (FSC) to make banking accessible to
FNB, a subsidiary of FirstRand [JSE:FSR], South Africa’s
third biggest banking group, last month said it had achieved its self-imposed
target of opening 150 EasyPlan branches by the end of December.
Nedbank Group [JSE:NED], the fourth biggest bank, has also
launched a new campaign to increase its presence in the entry level banking
Over the next few years Nedbank plans to roll out about 230
outlets which will include personal loan centres and kiosks at retail
Standard Bank Group [JSE:SBK], Africa’s biggest bank by
market capitalisation, has been training people to open accounts in ‘bank
shops’ in townships like Thembisa.
The bank shops have a cellphone banking capability allowing
clients to do money transfers and buy goods.
Bank-shop accounts allow people to buy products by using
According to the 2011 FinScope South Africa Survey, released
a month ago, the usage and awareness of Mzansi accounts have decreased from the
The FinScope survey said the number of Mzansi account
holders plummeted 36% to 3.2 million from 5 million. And 36% of the surveyed
individuals had never heard of the account before.