by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – SASFIN is accelerating its drive to expand business banking offerings for small and medium entreprises (SMEs).
This is an important but under-served segment of the South African economy.
Sandile Shabalala is steering this process as the Chief Executive of Sasfin’s newly unified business and commercial banking division.
He is building on his success as CEO of the fully-digital TymeBank before joining Sasfin.
Shabalala built it to more than 1 million customers by the time he moved on from there in 2019.
The executive believes he has particular insights into what business banking clients really need.
“Many business owners feel like their banks just don’t ‘get them’. They see banking processes as onerous and tedious, lacking in transparency and flexibility,” Shabalala explained.
“”They’re looking for a partner that understands their needs – and that has created solutions that respond directly to their business requirements, whether it’s for day to day transactions or by helping businesses grow by making funding available to them.”
The McKinsey research established that slow bank lending processes, such as an insistence on hard-copy documentation and branch visits, was behind SMEs’ slow uptake of the COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme.
These slow processes are typical of many applications and transactions in South African banking.
“These factors are at play in SMEs’ everyday operations, and not just in the context of the COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme,” Shabalala said.
“When your working day is consumed with keeping your business alive, you don’t have time to fill in forms, get documents certified, or stand in long queues during banks’ limited operating hours.”
Shabalala said SMEs needed solutions that create value via streamlined customer service interfaces, and with a single point of contact.
“When it comes to accessing funding, SMEs need relevant products with simple processes that are completed with as few touchpoints as possible so that they can get quick decisions that empower them to make the best choices for their business,” said Shabalala.
Experts have noted while the growth of South Africa’s SMEs has often been cited as a potential solution to the country’s economic problems, these businesses typically struggle to access a full suite of business banking products.
Employing up to 60 percent of South Africa’s workforce and contributing 34 percent of GDP, only 14 percent of SMEs are formalised, limiting their access to the financial services that could help them grow, and employ even more people.
– CAJ News