Nedbank up the stakes in battles for the lower end of the market

Nedbank, the fourth largest banking group in the country, is pressing ahead with its brave venture into the emerging banking market and shedding its yesteryear exclusive focus on the upper end of the market.

Seeing potential for growth in the emerging segment of the banking market, Nedbank took a decision to take a dive into this market a few years ago and when Tom Boardman took the reins at the bank. This saw the bank extending its loan activity and its general retail banking activity with an express purpose of attracting previously excluded and mainly black clients. The plan is gaining momentum under the leadership of new CEO Mike Brown.

This is tightening competition at the lower end of the market with other players making strong moves to penetrate the unbaked segments. Notable moves include an aggressive expansion by Capitec and FNB. Teba Bank which was focused on providing financial services to blue collar workers in the mining sector has remodeled itself into U Bank and taking a commercial expansion path while the Post Office is also preparing to commercialise its banking operations.

As part of its play for the unbanked market, Nedbank has unveiled a product which boasts a R5 per month flat fee for a Pay-As-You-Use account with R2, 000 embedded funeral cover. The product is titles Nedbank ‘Ke Yona’.

This follows Nedbank’s strategic review earlier this year to chart a new path to sustainable, profitable growth for its retail business. The group said it has chosen a direction to become a “distinctive client-centred bank for all in South Africa”.

“This entails focusing on key client segments including small business, seniors and the middle market where Nedbank has historically been strong, while also emphasising attractive growth segments in entry level banking and the youth,” said Ingrid Johnson, Nedbank Group Managing Executive of Retail and Business Banking.

She said this is evidenced in Nedbank’s June 2011 interim financial results, leading to its retail business headline earnings recovering six fold to R826m, at a return on equity of 9.9%.

“The Nedbank ‘Ke Yona’ positioning campaign launched on the 3rd July 2011, showcases tailor-made offerings to suit the needs of the entry level market, has been well received building on our existing base of over 3 million entry level banking clients including the youth. We are delighted with the positive response and are excited to bring the enhanced Nedbank ‘Ke Yona’ offering with great value banking features,” says Ciko Thomas, Nedbank Managing Executive: Consumer Banking.

The group said enhanced Nedbank ‘Ke Yona’ offering comprises of the Pay-As-You-Use (PAYU) transactional account, Funeral Cover, Personal Loan, JustSave account and the money transfer solution Vodacom m-pesa enabling clients to transact, borrow, save and insure.

Nedbank clients pay a flat fee of R5 per month for the pay-as- you-use account and get funeral cover of R2000 included in the price. With top up Funeral Cover options, this gives them a further 20% discount. “All additional charges are purely on a pay as you use basis”.

Clients can withdraw cash at Point of Sale (POS) terminals for a flat fee of as little as R1 per withdrawal. This account allows clients to take full control of their bank charges and only pay for what they use.

“To encourage clients to save, if they open a JustSave account with as little as R50 and a debit order from their Pay-As-You-Use account, we will deposit an additional R2 per month into their savings account. In addition, we now offer personal loans from R1000 for clients who earn a minimum of R1200 per month,” adds Thomas.

The group said the  Nedbank ‘Ke Yona’ offering is available through over 1,000 staffed outlets as Nedbank continues to grow its footprint across South Africa, including communities such as Ngqeleni, Centane, Acornhoek, Idutywa, Diepsloot, Kuruman and Thohoyandou.

Nedbank has also invested in building its innovative, alternate distribution outlets through its partnership with Pick n Pay and Boxer Stores for the past six years. These alternative outlets now at 150, add to the existing network of 459 branches and 429 Nedbank Personal Loan Kiosks, which include Nedbank presence in Cash Build and Build-It as well as the Nedbank Mobile Sales teams in communities across the country.

“Our client-centred approach is key to continue making banking accessible and ensuring we provide relevant products, services and easy to use financial tools to help our clients build financial fitness.” concludes Johnson.

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