Can global banking disruptors unseat SA banking giants? Regulator says No!

EDINBURGH — South Africa’s banking giants have had it good for a long time – and the good times are set to continue. That’s the message contained between the lines of the statement made by Kuben Naidoo, chief executive of the Prudential Authority, on likely developments with banking licences. Naidoo insists that the country will allow competitors to enter the market, but the powers-that-be aren’t going to make it particularly easy for global disruptors to dramatically change the face of SA banking. – Jackie Cameron

By Roxanne Henderson

(Bloomberg) – South Africa will strive to allow competition into its banking system in a way that won’t threaten the stability of the industry as more and more entrants seek to rival the nation’s biggest lenders, said Kuben Naidoo, the chief executive of the Prudential Authority.

While many new banking licenses are expected to be granted, these would be done within “reason” and in a way that doesn’t allow too much of a disruption that will put the system at risk or make it fragile, he said at a Banking Association of South Africa summit in Johannesburg on Monday. While he hopes the industry will become innovative, “safety and soundness is important,” Naidoo said.

Kuben Naidoo, deputy SARB governor.
Kuben Naidoo, Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank.

More “non-traditional” banks are trying to enter the segment, such as mobile-phone operators that don’t need to hold capital. And while banks want a level playing field, there are technological developments that can provide better services to customers, said Naidoo, who is also a deputy governor of the South African Reserve Bank.

The central bank is likely to make changes to regulations involving the country’s payments system that balances a stable financial industry against the evolving needs of consumers, he said.