FNB will add seven new branches in the coming months, the bank said in a statement on Tuesday (8 October).
The new outlets will bring the bank’s existing national footprint to 619 branches, with the additional branches set to open in the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng and the Western Cape.
FNB said that it branches currently service approximately 1.6 million customers per month using digital zones (self-service terminals) and in-branch service consultants.
“We offer customers a wider choice of interfaces to access our services because we understand that their needs vary,” said chief executive of FNB Points of Presence, Lee-Anne van Zyl.
“The branch network is very important in our comprehensive range of interfaces which includes App, Online, Cellphone Banking, Contact Centre and Banker Services suite. Similarly, we have been growing our workforce while making sure that existing employees are equipped to service customers by using technology.”
Van Zyl said that FNB was also committed to ensuring that its already existing branches are in line with the current modern sleek designs.
“We have therefore started the process to revamp 29 of our branches in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Free State,” she said.
“The new branch design integrates self-service and personalised service, also important is the fact that the branch will heighten customer privacy during consultations with staff and at the self-service areas.”
Worries in the banking sector
FNB’s announcement of new branches opening up comes amid worries in the banking sector over retrenchments and branch closures.
A number of local banks have closed a number of their branches throughout the country as a result of digitalisation, which encourages self-service, with clients using their cell phones and computers, rather than walking into a branch.
Lenders are cutting jobs as they seek ways to lower costs and contend with slow economic growth and fresh competition in the industry from branchless, digital entrants such as TymeBank and insurer Discovery.
Job cuts in the country are particularly sensitive as the unemployment rate has risen to 29%, the highest in more than a decade.
Absa, Standard Bank, and Nedbank Group have all consulted with staff about cuts in recent months.
Absa is restructuring operations across its business units, Standard Bank is closing 91 branches, while Nedbank is in talks with about 1,500 employees over job cuts or redeployments, Bloomberg reported in July.
Financial services union Sasbo recently tried to organise a major strike in the banking sector – supported by Cosatu – which would have seen as many as 50,000 workers out in the streets protesting these moves.
The strike was interdicted at the last minute by the country’s Labour Court, but the unions vowed to appeal the ruling and arrange another protest date.