Banks constantly engage with their consumers to implement debt-restructuring measures. Some of these are provided for by the National Credit Act, while others are voluntary.
The legislated measures include a debt-review process; prescription of debt, which has expunged R9.3billion of prescribed debt as a once-off measure, with ongoing monthly expunging of prescribed debt; credit life-insurance regulations; limitation of fees and interest rates; and affordability-assessment regulations.
The industry's proactive voluntary measures include debt-concession rules; payment holidays and moratoriums; restructuring and rescheduling of loans; debt consolidation; bank-assisted sales; bespoke arrangements with clients; and settlement campaigns.
The number of consumers in good standing have increased year-on-year since 2015.
The unsecured lending market in South Africa is significant. According to the Consumer Bureau Market Report, Q1 2017, there are 24.7 million credit-active consumers in South Africa.
Of these, 39.3percent have impaired credit records. The number of people with impaired records has decreased since 2015 and is currently at levels last seen in 2008, during the financial crisis.
Unsecured lending is a critical tool for financial inclusion - especially if managed responsibly by both lenders and borrowers. Banks are heavily regulated and their business practices are subject to significant checks.
The South African Reserve Bank is a proactive and efficient regulator and continues to act in the interests of consumers and the banking sector.
Currently, banks grant 76.3percent of new unsecured credit in the market.
As a sector we support targeted and sustainable debt intervention that balances the rights and obligations of borrowers and lenders.
Unscrupulous lending practices, whether by regulated or unregulated credit providers, must be condemned. They exploit the desperation of the poorest, exacerbating their perilous financial position and sending them into a debt spiral for mere profit.
At The Banking Association South Africa (BASA) we have noted the claims made by Viceroy Research about Capitec Bank, one of our members.
The banking regulator, the South African Reserve Bank, has said that, according to all the information available, Capitec is solvent, well-capitalised and has adequate liquidity. And the bank meets all prudential requirements.
BASA does not comment on the business operations of its member banks. The association primarily represents the industry in its engagement with stakeholders on policy matters.
We are confident that the relevant authorities will comment, once they have had the time to consider the report.
BASA is of the view that responsible and ethical lending practices are fundamental to the efficient operation of the South African credit market and industry.
All stakeholders must ensure that these principles are adhered to if we are to enhance financial inclusion and broad-based, transformative economic growth.
Cas Coovadia is managing director of the Banking Association South Africa.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Independent Group.
- BUSINESS REPORT