Absa Chief Executive Maria Ramos looks on during a rebranding launch where Barclays Africa changed its name back to Absa. File Image: IOL
CAPE TOWN - Absa’s decision to divorce from Barclays this year saw the banking giants half-year profits fall by 4 percent, which translated to R1.4 billion.

Absa reported this week that their headline earnings a share was at 877.8 cents in the six months to June 30, compared with 917.3 cents last year. 

Absa Group chief executive Maria Ramos told 702 that "we’re probably doing the same (number of loans to farmers). We continue to see opportunities in that space." 

On the topic of land expropriation, Ramos said: " We have to wait and see what the outcome of the Parliamentary process is and this is a very big issue in our country and we need to find a resolution. Our understanding of Section 25 is that it already provides for expropriation without compensation. We do need to go through this process. It’s the uncertainty that creates the difficulty for everybody."

It should be noted that the retail unit with Absa grew by 4 percent to R4.2 billion.

Ramos said on Monday that gross domestic product (GDP) growth has been revised downwards, "but we’ve delivered results within expectations."

The chief executive was quick to punt the digital work Absa has been doing over the last few months.

"We’ve been very focused on digital, WhatsApp banking, and Samsung Pay", Ramos said. 

Absa announced in late July that it was working with Samsung South Africa to offer its customers early access to Samsung Pay before the service is commercially launched in South Africa.

Samsung Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service by Samsung Electronics that lets users make payments using compatible phones and other Samsung-produced devices.


Absa also anounced this week that it was ready to take on Africa markets. The bank's goal is to double its share of banking revenues in Africa to 12 percent as it continues to deliver on the new corporate strategy it launched in March. 

Ramos said an important milestone in positioning for delivery against their strategy was achieving full regulatory deconsolidation earlier this year, meaning that UK regulators no longer regard Absa and Barclays PLC as a single entity.

"In practical terms, it means that we no longer operate under any policy frameworks set by Barclays PLC. For example we are now free to set our own risk appetite," Ramos added.

"In our retail and business banking unit in South Africa, we now have an operating model which has reduced management layers, enables faster decision making and brings the leadership team closer to customers and colleagues."

Ramos said the group has also made progress in its aspiration to build an entrepreneurial, digitally-led bank with the launch of an app-based personal loans platform in Kenya.

"We have made it clear that our ambition is to be a digitally-led organisation, digitally capable and scalable," Ramos said.