100 24.05.2012 The Mail delivery depot in Zone 10 Sebokeng was vandalized as a mob wearing in post office attire stormed in at the depot. A Post Office bakkie parked just outside the entrance was set alight during the attack. Police believe that the attack is related to the post office workers who are on strike. Picture:Itumeleng English

The South African Postbank is expected to receive a banking licence early next year, according to Communications Minister Dina Pule.

Preparations for Postbank to become a corporate entity, which will enable it to become a retail bank, have gained momentum.

The bank plans to serve the unbanked and people underserved by the incumbent banking fraternity.

Postbank will offer simple financial products through the infrastructure of the South African Post Office.

Pule told Business Report last week that the Postbank board would meet this week to put together a process of advertising and appointing a managing director.

She had engaged the National Treasury and the Reserve Bank in November last year to finalise borrowing, lending and investment policies.

“I would have loved to get a licence by December,” she said.

The application for a banking licence was lodged a year ago, during the tenure of the late communications minister Roy Padayachie.

Corporatisation was expected to be completed in 2010, the Postbank’s centenary year.

The South African Postbank Limited Act was promulgated in December 2010 and commenced on July 22 last year.

According to the act, the Postbank will be established as a subsidiary of the Post Office. It previously operated as a division within the post office.

Postbank has also been granted membership of Visa.

Pule, who has been dogged by controversy relating to the organisation of the inaugural ICT Indaba over the past month, has made progress on other fronts.

She said: “We said we’d have every entity stabilised by July. For me, the SABC is stabilising… I think they are going to somehow register progress financially. They are still struggling.”

The minister said she had started a process of appointing executives at the Post Office.

“I have not had challenges with other entities except the Independent Communications Authority of SA and SABC,” she said.

She was adamant that her department would launch the digital terrestrial television migration project next month. The international deadline for countries to switch over to the digital broadcasting signal from analogue is 2015.

South Africa’s process had been delayed by a digital standard review last year, while policies for the manufacturing of the set-top boxes, including subsidies for the boxes, were outstanding.

Pule said by December Sentech, the state’s signal distributor, would have digital signal coverage for 70 percent of the rural and urban population.

The first phase will be launched in the Northern Cape – a province that could be problematic if the digital television signal interferes with the radio wave signal for the Square Kilometre Array project.