While a number of South African companies have announced the closure of businesses and staff retrenchments due to the coronavirus pandemic, Capitec says it has continued to hire employees and open branches.
Capitec chief executive Gerrie Fourie told BusinessTech following the announcement of the group’s financial results for the 6 months ended August 2020, this week, that part of this can be explained by the closure of branches in areas where they are not supported by retailers or where there is low client demand, and the opening of other branches where clients are better serviced.
That the bank has effectively maintained a footprint of 840 branches, said Fourie, adding that although there has been an increasing push towards digitalisation, primarily because of the coronavirus pandemic, Capitec still sees over six million people come into its branches every month.
“When I look at South Africa we are still a long way from going fully digital. If you add over 800,000 clients over six months it is important to hire staff to add capacity,” he said.
Fourie said that a lot of the bank’s recent hires have been in its call centres with an estimated 10,000 clients to every call centre agent. “We are definitely not retrenching at the moment and will continue adding more employees until at least the end of the year,” he said.
He said that part of this employment drive is also being driven by Capitec’s acquisition of Mercantile bank, with Capitec currently looking for skilled IT professionals to help flesh-out the operation further.
Fourie said that Capitec is also on the lookout for employees who have the requisite digital skills.
Since the acquisition of Mercantile Bank in November 2019, Capitec has offered a business banking solution to established small to medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs.
“Mercantile provides Capitec with the opportunity to deliver a digitally led banking solution to these clients, based on the same fundamentals as our retail banking solution. Currently retail and business banking run independently as we refine our business banking strategy and build the business banking division,” it said.
Business banking active clients increased by 14% since February 2020, and deposits increased with 5% to R12.8 billion. Against the background of the national lockdown impact, the same credit loss provision philosophy was applied to Mercantile.
As at the end of August 2020, the gross loan book amounted to R10.5 billion with a provision coverage ratio of 5.5% compared to 3.0% at the end of February 2020.
“Digital innovation in all areas of the business is a priority, as is building the business bank of the future. We will continue to meet the evolving needs of our clients by launching new products. Some employees will continue to work from home and will gradually and responsibly return to the workplace. Our fundamental principles will remain the basis of our strategies,” said Fourie.