16 January 2013

Namibia: Standard Bank Freezes Some Banking Fees

STANDARD Bank Namibia is trying to gain market share by luring new clients with the promise that there will be no increase in its banking fees for personal transactional and current account holders this year.

"We hope to attract new customers," Standard Bank Namibia managing director Mpumzi Pupuma said on Monday. The bank's head of personal and business banking, Baronice Hans, added that the decision to freeze fees for 2013 was made in "light of the local economic conditions and in appreciation to our clients for their continued support and loyalty".

Corporate and business clients, however, won't be so lucky. Their banking fees will still be increased in line with inflation. According to the latest figures released by the Namibia Statistics Agency, the average inflation rate in 2012 was 6,5%.

Standard Bank Namibia last year got flak after the implementation of its new core banking system resulted in ATMs swallowing cards and a lack of internet connectivity, among others. At the time, Pupuma said all costs resulting from over-the-counter transactions would be reversed.

Hans on Monday said 2012 was filled with "challenges and successes", but that the bank continues to "move our customers forward". She said the new system allowed Standard Bank Namibia to launch new products like MyUpdates (alerts), mobile banking and SME Quick Loans with "pace and ease".

According to Investment House Namibia's (IHN) Banking Review 2012, Standard Bank Namibia is the third biggest bank in the country in terms of assets. At the end of December 2011, the bank's assets were worth around N$16,1 billion, compared to FNB Namibia's N$20,6 billion and Bank Windhoek's N$17,4 billion. Nedbank Namibia had N$7,5 billion in assets.

The IHN report indicated that Standard Bank Namibia lost market share over the past decade. The bank enjoyed 37,7% of the entire banking industry's assets in 2001, but only had 26,2% in 2011. Compared to this, Bank Windhoek and FNB Namibia grew their asset market share, while Nedbank Namibia's share fell marginally.

Standard Bank Namibia in 2011 made more than half a billion dollars in non-interest income, which include fees and commission.

Asked how the bank could afford to put its fees for private transactional and current accounts on hold for 2013, Pupuma said the new core banking system would result in cost efficiencies. Attracting more clients will also boost the bank's revenue, he said.

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