I’ve never fully understood why some people are loyal to any particular bank. To have the energy to actively promote one bank’s products or services over another is positively naive. It’s just not a viable topic of conversation, because they’re all shit. I’ve had personal and business accounts with a number of our local banks and I can assure you, they’ll all let you down eventually.
Even the private banks. Don’t think they’re thinking about you when they go home at night. Your name only enters their mind when your number appears on their screen, prompting an ‘unscheduled’ check to see if you’re happy and if they can push any products.
Any brand loyalty to do with banks these days should probably be reserved for the bank with the best app, which rules out Nedbank before we even start. My God, has there ever been a worse banking app? With functionality rivalling a Safeway calculator, is it entirely necessary to log in multiple times between transactions?
I remember their branch in Sea Point was almost as slow as the Gardens Centre Clicks. I often used to lie on the floor in the queue. The manager would sometimes run up to ask if I was okay, and I would explain that I was perfectly fine, but simply couldn’t stand for that long.
Nothing like the kind of meltdown we see at Telkom from time to time, but enough to garner a few sideways glances.
I had a brief encounter with Standard Bank recently. Besides the fact that their bank account numbers are non-industry standard, causing a lifetime of pain for anyone transacting with a Standard Bank customer, you also can’t see any incoming Forex payments on their online banking site. But don’t fret, there’s a toll-free number to call each day to check. Hah! Classic.
FNB’s app is pretty much the best of the brick and mortar banks, if you must choose one, although their daily limits department leaves a lot to be desired. Set your own daily pay-and-clear limit, they proudly declare, as long as it’s not more than R30 000!
Okay, so I can choose any limit as long as it not more than your limit? Hmm, sounds like a great bank for Henry Ford.
I also tried to close a dormant FNB account the other day, for a company that no longer operates. The account has been dormant for years and the company closed down – it turns out the demand for fresh French black truffles is fairly low in Cape Town.
But they can’t delete the account and remove it from my profile without submitting FICA docs. Like proof of postal address. For a company that doesn’t exist anymore. And don’t even get me started on their PayPal offering which is harder to navigate than the Suez canal.
I wouldn’t touch Capitec with a 10-foot barge pole, I’ve heard people moan about their app and I don’t think I could handle it. I also get the feeling they’re one of those “you need to go into the branch to get that done” kind of places.
The same goes for ABSA who score a fart-worthy 2 on HelloPeter. You could spend hours reading the rants from dissatisfied customers, but life moves on and we’re all screaming into the void.
You see, the problem with banks these days is exactly that – they’re banks. So you’re stuck with a bunch of physical institutions, trying to give you a tech offering, instead of what should be the other way around.
It’s like old brick and mortar travel agents trying to go online, when the new winners are tech companies offering only travel systems that give consumers exactly what they want.
Please, for the love of all that is decent, can we have something for the tech-savvy user who wants to move forward into the 21st century?
Even though it’s early days, we do have high hopes for Bettr, which is aiming to shake up the country’s banking institutions. According to their swanky new site, Bettr “is more than money, it is a digital economic ecosystem that gives users access to financial and transactional services, allowing them to pay, borrow and save through their app or Bettr card”.
Basically, they’re lowering the barriers of banking to consumers, and reducing the cost of distribution, origination and underwriting risks for financial products.
In a nutshell, from what we can gather, they want to change the game completely, and they’re off to a good start. Now in the Alpha phase, the app launched in Dublin on June 12 at MoneyConf, an annual meet-up of the biggest banks and fintechs.
Bettr is one of just two South African fintech startups to have been invited to attend and pitch, and one of seven startups to have made it into the semi-finals of the MoneyConf Pitch, proving its concept and relevance.
After undergoing intense testing and development, access to Bettr’s digital financial ecosystem will be available to the public in Beta when October rolls around. Until then, their 4 000 or so community members will get first access to Bettr to test drive its features and functions and give feedback.
That will mean that any kinks have been worked out when the app and services go live, but if you want to get in ahead of the rush you can join now to keep abreast of the latest.
As it stands, the bar has been set pretty low in South Africa, when you consider what else is out there, but there is much reason to be optimistic about Bettr and what they’re set to bring to the market.
In the meantime, it’s back to queuing and swearing and being on hold and all the other things that make banking in this country such a stress-inducing, laborious necessity.
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