Capitec Bank is planning to employ more than 600 new staff in the next six months as its clients base surged to more than 12.6 million. File Photo: IOL
DURBAN – Capitec Bank is planning to employ more than 600 new staff in the next six months as its clients base surged to more than 12.6 million, and it delivered a 20 percent increase in headline earnings in the six months to August.

This at a time when the banking sector is engulfed in discontent at the number of banks retrenching staff and as a planned strike today was averted.

Driven by strong client growth, adoption of digital banking and solid credit performance, Capitec reported a 20 percent increase in headline earnings to R2.94 billion.

The bank's digital banking clients increased by 45 percent to 6.8 million, while 2.9 million clients actively used the banking app, up by 61.1 percent compared to last year.

Capitec clients grew by an average of almost 200 000 a month during the period and increased to more than 12.6 million, the largest in the country.

Chief executive Gerrie Fourie said on Thursday that the group intended to open 20 more branches before the end of the year.

Fourie said: “We will continue to grow our branch footprint and further use digital innovation and artificial intelligence to ensure that we provide our clients with the best digital banking and payment solutions as well as improve our client insights.

"We are fortunate to be growing, continuously hiring new employees and not retrenching.”

Fourie added that the new employees would fill positions ranging from service consultants to coders and data scientists.

“Our implementation of technology in the business has not posed a threat to jobs. Instead it has helped us improve processes, freeing-up our staff to help clients bank better.

"Our new contactless card and new banking app are already in pilot phase, and will launch for clients in the near future, further strengthening our digital offering,” he added.

Capitec's headline earnings per share increased by 20 percent to 2 545 cents a share, and the group declared an interim dividend of 755c a share, which was up by 20 percent compared to last year. The bank's gross loan book increased by 17 percent to R60.25 billion, while its gross credit card book grew by 71 percent to R4.55bn.

Jordan Weir, a trader at Citadel, said Capitec continued to attract new clients, year on year, while also tempering its exposure to higher-risk clients in the lower-income-earning brackets who utilise credit facilities within the bank.

“Capitec has also looked at tightening the tap when it comes to its unsecured lending business.

"For the financial period under review, it seems that the robust results have stemmed from focusing on repurposing and streamlining the company’s internal lending department management processes rather than setting its primary focus on new growth,” Weir said.

Capitec shares closed 0.44 percent higher at R1 281.29 on the JSE on Thursday.