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. Photo: Supplied
JOHANNESBURG – 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 on Tuesday: “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 200percent 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 [email protected] in January, would join the company in January 2020 to help in the use of data science.

BUSINESS REPORT