CAPE TOWN – FNB adopted a different approach to its Covid-19 financial relief for clients compared with the other banks, by offering a three month break on loans, telecommunications and insurance premium agreements the bank had with clients, with emergency relief funding, and so far some R4.2 billion of relief has been made available to clients.
This was according to FNB Retail chief executive Raj Makanjee, who said in an online event that FNB had paid out relief to more than 132 000 of its clients, and the relief had covered some R37 billion of credit exposure by the bank.
He said the bank was at present also exploring forms or collateralized relief solutions, because the journey to December by the bank’s clients would be different for clients in different industries, “and we know there are a lot of tough times still ahead,” he said.
He said the bank appreciated that its customers were facing “immense challenges” through the pandemic, and had structured retail product pricing changes with this in mind.
For instance, monthly account fees on bank accounts for individuals would be unchanged or reduced, while new eBucks Rewards earn rules would make it easier for customers to earn more eBucks. The changes come into effect from July 1.
He said in the past 12 months, its customers earned in excess of R2.4bn in eBucks.
The Bank illustrated the behavioural impact of its rewards programme by revealing that 56 percent of its customers were now spending 100percent of their pharmacy spend at Clicks since the retailer became an eBucks partner in April 2020. Previously this behaviour was prevalent among only 27 percent of customers.
Makanjee said although there was some improvement in consumer spending seen by the bank in May since the start of level 4 lockdown, it was still well down compared with pre-lockdown levels, and well down from just before the lockdown.
In the last three days before the lockdown FNB’s cardholders spent more than R4.3bn in stocking up on goods they considered essential. Makanjee said spending was likely to rise further this month through Level 3 of the lockdown.
He said the bank had no major disruptions for clients through the lockdown so far as its years of focus on digitisation paid off, and the group was able to get more than 40 000 of its staff working from home within days, although a number of bank branch staff had to continue working in the branches because these were designated as essential services. Activity on the bank’s app was also growing in double digit figures, he said