DURBAN – Ithala said being awarded a commercial banking licence would enable them as a fully-fledged bank to reinforce their support to government and further be able to take services nationally.

The entity’s chief executive Danny Zandamela said that research on the subject showed that state banks generally added significant value to economies through the cycle and could be very beneficial in supporting access to funding when the rest of the industry was de-leveraging. 

“This has the added benefit of supporting and bolstering economic growth through low growth periods,” said Zandamela. 

The SA Reserve Bank required Ithala to demonstrate that it met and was compliant with all the requirements of a bank as set out in the Banks Act prior to submitting an application for a commercial banking licence. 

Zandamela said they were busy with an organisation-wide restructure to “Build the Bank”. He said this was part of a process to be ready to apply for a commercial banking licence.

“Some of the key priorities in this process involve installing a new banking technology platform, recapitalising the business and appointing skilled and experienced banking sector professionals. 

Once we are satisfied that we are ready, we will then submit our banking licence application.” 

Ithala said its process to implement a new banking platform was well underway as they had already appointed a technology partner to implement the platform.  

Upon completion, it would be able to develop new products and “give its clients world class service”. 

While being a relatively small entity at this stage, the recapitalisation cost was not as large as expected. 

Ithala said that it was also revamping most of its 39 branches across KwaZulu-Natal so that the organisation would be able to meet the growing needs of its diverse customer base more effectively to gear its operations up to be ready to better serve its current and new clientele when it obtains a full banking licence. 

Some of the already revamped branches include Mega City, KwaMnyandu branches in Umlazi and the Richards Bay branch.

As an entity wholly-owned by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, its overall goals and strategies were geared towards meeting government developmental priorities which included providing accessible banking to previously marginalised communities and ensuring their meaningful participation in the economy of the country.