This is an industry which, according to South African Market Insights, had total assets in South Africa of R5.686 trillion in April, up from R5.202 trillion a year before. This represented growth of 9.3% in total assets.
The banks recorded gross loans and advances of R4.251 trillion in April, up from R3.893 trillion for growth of 9.2% year-on-year. This was “pretty strong and aggressive growth” for the industry in an economy struggling to grow by more than 1% a year, and in which one-third of employable people cannot find a job.
But this is also the industry contemplating retrenching workers, leading to a planned strike in the sector tomorrow. Rapid advances in technology, leading to the rise in internet banking, means that banks need fewer people and fewer bricks-and-mortar facilities to serve clients. And clients have been quick to adopt the new technology for the convenience it offers.
Who wants to stand in a queue in a bank if the same objective can be achieved with a few clicks on a computer keyboard or, increasingly, from the palm by cellphone?