A Capitec banker uses one of its ATMs. Photo: Supplied.
Durban - Political decisions like the recall of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan from his road show in UK, cannot be taken lightly, because they have the power to influence the performance of the economy, said Capitec Bank chief executive Gerrie Fourie.

“Now we are witnessing a situation where business has to operate in an environment where the political risks have a massive impact on how the economy or business performs,” he said on Tuesday.

“In my opinion, we once again are creating uncertainty and this will discourage investor confidence. Business requires a stable environment to prosper. The latest developments on Minister Gordhan are not doing the country any good,” he said.

Fourie noted that the country had reversed the gains it made last week, which saw the rand strengthening against the dollar.

“Last Friday we were looking good. The rand was doing well and we were positive that we might get a petrol price cut soon. Instead we are seeing the weakening of our currency. This shows that the political events have a major impact on how the business operates, as we have seen the Donald Trump impact in the US and Brexit in Britain,” Fourie said.

The rand has fell by 3.5 percent against the dollar after President Jacob Zuma ordered Gordhan on Monday to cancel investor meetings in the UK and US and return home.

Despite uncertainty in the South African economy, the bank has continued to grow from strength to strength over the years.

Capitec reported an 18 percent increase in earnings to R3.8 billion in the year to February. Operating costs increased by 18 percent to R5.4 billion.

The bank said the main reasons for the growth were the continued increase in the number of employees and branches.

Employment costs grew year-on-year by 21 percent or R421 million and the cost of premises grew by 18 percent or R76 million.

IT and security costs also increased significantly.

The bank reported a significant growth in the number of new customers with 1.3 million new clients gained to take the overall clients number to 8.6 million.

Read also: Capitec lifts earnings by 18%

This has positioned the bank as the third largest in the country in terms of active clients, behind Absa and Standard Bank. “A core principle in our organisation is to act with the best interests of the client in mind. We opened 76 new branches during the financial year to alleviate pressure in high volume areas and to grow the brand footprint in higher-end shopping malls,” Fourie said.

Capitec clinched its first deal with a foreign fintech company on March 26. The bank will purchase a 40 percent stake in Cream Finance for 21m. The investment will be done in three tranches at nine month intervals, subject to certain performance measures being met.

Jordan Weir, a trader at BayHill Capital, said Capitec’s results were in line with expectations. There were one or two things that have caught the eye of shareholders, such as their venture into the foreign banking environment through Cream Finance Holdings.

“By taking this step into the foreign banking playing field, Capitec will have another ‘trick up its sleeve’ adding to its already progressive business model which has been historically focused on South Africa.

"However, the potentially steep learning curve this may bring may need to be monitored by shareholders in the near future,” Weir said. Capitec over the next year would continue to focus on the ever changing needs of their core South African client base. Capitec shares gained 1.38 percent on the JSE to close at R807.