Africa is home to more than 1.2 billion people. All nations on the continent share a common concern - how to maximise the use of water and preserve this resource that is essential to prosperity and growth.
It is these concerns that prompted inventors from across the globe to take part in the recent Standard Bank Water4Africa challenge. The competition concentrated on seeking global inputs in major areas of water conservation. These varied from ensuring the sustainability of groundwater, sanitation, and purification of water including solar, through to filtration and innovative solutions to promote wise water use.
One of the categories in the challenge centred on early stage solutions (new and promising concepts) to solve these issues, with three winners being awarded prizes of US$2,000 each.
The winning innovators are:
Joel Mukanga (30) of Uganda, a community development officer, whose lifelong interest in innovation began while he was still at school. His concept, entitled “Basic WASH Management Program” to convey its focus on water hygiene and sanitation. The idea is to introduce education about water hygiene, sanitation and conservation into the education system at all levels, as primary driver of change.
For Felix Manyogote (24), a medical student in Tanzania, was determination to play a role in his community wherever possible. His entry also focused on education. Felix focus was on the school WASH programme which provides expertise and interventions aimed at saving lives and reducing illness through access to healthy and safe water. The role of children is to pass on the knowledge of hygienic behaviour from their schools to their families and communities.
Jim Murphy (47), who has a strong background in applied physics and electronics, relocated from the UK to Cape Town in 2011. His idea was to develop an electrically-powered (incorporating solar power), three-wheel water ‘trike’ capable of carrying large quantities of water from a water source to a village. Standard Bank’s Water4Africa challenge used ‘crowdsourcing’ as a powerful tool to gather innovative ideas and identify practical solutions to address the water issues facing Africa.
... View more
Africa is filled with many cultures, and bringing these cultures together is the love for music, song and dance.
Music is an art of sound and when listening, it expresses ideas and emotions. At Standard Bank, our passion for Africa and jazz has helped us bring these two worlds together through our sponsorship of jazz festivals in South Africa, Malawi, Zambia and Ghana.
There is nothing like experiencing the power of a live music performance. Watch how the voice of this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist winner Nduduzo Makhathini proves that the hypothesis: 'the closer you are, the more you feel'.
For more information on the Standard Bank Jazz Festival 2015 in Grahamstown, visit http://bit.ly/1KkAGMZ
... View more
The traditional ways of segmenting customers into segments, LSMs (living standards measures) or archetypes has little use when describing the individualism and complexity of each consumer.
Customer Joe Bloggs might, for instance, use online banking on a Monday, visit a branch consultant on Tuesday, talk to us via Twitter on Wednesday, and use mobile app banking on Thursday. It is the modern bank’s job to pull together insights from the entire week, and use them to present Joe with a better and more tailored experience.
Having this single-view of the customer sets the foundation for providing personalised services. We start to see which account Joe uses most regularly (and make it more prominent on his smartphone app), or we notice his favourite amount to withdraw from an ATM (and automatically make that a “favourite” button).
He may want to make payments via EFT, or he may prefer sending a cash voucher to someone’s cellphone. But perhaps he wants to make a payment with a QR code reader, or one of the popular instant messaging or social media platforms. The number of options is growing all the time, and customers are accustomed to having the freedom to do things the way they want to – even the example of making a simple payment.
It is only with a relentless focus on design-led, intuitive customer experiences, that we can present these myriad of options to customers – without making the experience too complicated or clumsy. In order words, we’re able to achieve the goal of shrink-wrapping the entire ambit of financial services, and bringing them to the cellphone.
We can start creating those moments where things happen “as if by magic”. So when the GPS on Joe’s phone tells us that he’s accessing his banking app from an airport lounge, we alter the design and bring the latest forex prices to the fore.
As we know, customers have very different needs at different points-in-time. Knowing when Joe wants to do a quick balance check, or when he wants to submit an insurance claim, or when he wants to enquire about house prices and loan structures, means we can present relevant services to him at that moment.
By better understanding our customers and leveraging all the insights from their activity, we’re able to start crafting flexible products that “shape shift” to suit their needs. This is a long – and perhaps “never-ending” journey – but one that will ultimately lead to superior customer service.
Read more about this with design-led thinking in mind here.
... View more
The 2015 Standard Bank Group Sikuvile Awards are celebrating the media revolution which has contributed to shifts of the balance of power in South African society.
This year’s awards recognise the changing nature of our South African media landscape. Each one of us relies on many media sources that we consider essential, each covering our specific interests, some of which barely existed ten years ago and maybe unrecognisable to us ten years from now.
This year’s awards are looking to celebrate journalism of the 20 th century, identifying those who have embraced the new principles whilst maintaining integrity to the skills of the craft. The 2015 awards celebrate the writers, photographers and editors who embody these values, and who have used them as a foundation to produce excellent work.
The judging panel consists of respected journalists in the industry such as Paula Fray, David Wightman, Dinesh Balliah, Gus Silber, Henry Jeffreys, Irwin Manoim, Tyrone August among others. The quality of the submissions this year impressed the judges and Standard Bank believes that South African journalism can hold its own on a global stage. This year saw the number of entries once again increase, with 697 submissions, with 75 finalists across 14 award categories.
The Standard Bank Group Sikuvile Journalism Awards will be presented at a prize-giving function on 24th of June in South Africa.
This year’s award winners will have demonstrated their adaptability to the changing media landscape, whilst remaining true to the core values of journalism in South Africa. They have produced stories and images that have shaped our national consciousness, and they’ve done so with integrity, courage, tenacity and originality.
Use the hashtag #SBSJA15 to follow the conversation.
... View more
The business-to-business (B2B) marketing department at Standard Bank supports a business by providing the right tools and exposure to communicate and sell banking solutions to existing and new clients.
Taking up a role in B2B marketing would involve coming up with new, innovative and customised approaches engaging our existing and potential customers to position solutions that will benefit their business. Market and sector research as well as market segmentation play an important part of this process.
If a role in this challenging department interests you, and you enjoy stakeholder management, interacting with a variety of business owners to understand their needs, and enjoy understanding different sectors and industries, then you just might be the person we are looking for.
If this sounds like your dream job, click here to visit our careers site, browse for jobs, and upload your CV or to find out more about what we do.
... View more
The recent rise of Africa’s middle class has been referred to as a phenomenon due to the region’s changing economic fortunes.
Spending habits, especially on consumables and luxuries, attracts a lot of attention and for good reason; they are unlike any other period in the continent’s history. Nigeria’s oil-rich middle class is forecast to gulp down $1.5 billion of wine by 2017, unexpectedly propping up a global industry seen to be getting smaller.
As people earn more money, they demand different products and as companies we need to be very sensitive to that dynamic. As African consumers are getting more and more wealthy, they are getting more educated and are demanding more and more choice.
What is not in doubt is the role of the middle class in the realisation of the much-sought after inclusive growth, promoting institutional reform and democracy, and advancing social progress, innovation and entrepreneurial drive.
But it’s also not homogenous—country specific conditions such as ethnic fractures and size of government also affect it significantly.
Image source: M&G Africa story on African Cityzens Visual Artists through Africa. Photographer: Sarah Waiswa
We dug some more into this important class, and came up with some interesting findings:
The role of education plays a major part in explaining the assets held by the African middle class. Studies find that the more educated you are, the more likely you are to be in the middle class, and to either remain there or transition into the upper class. This is why African governments are urged to expand education opportunities. There is a caveat of sorts however—this so-called ‘return’ on education declines with the supply of more educated people. But it is still a nice problem to have.
Africa is renowned for its cultural diversity. But generally, (though not strictly) countries that have more homogenous ethnic make-ups and consequently stronger social ties and capital tend to have a bigger middle class, helping explain the difference between Egypt and say, Ghana or Kenya.
There is often a link between governance and the middle class. More social goods such as education and health nurture more numbers into the middle class. And more of the middle class help agitate for better governance.
In Egypt, according to its new Demographic Health Survey, 9% of its 83.7 million people own a car, and 97% are connected to a satellite dish and have a refrigerator. Among the kind of durable goods that often differentiate the middle class, the income inequality between the urban and rural households on newly-constituted wealth indices is considerable. Some 90% of its urban population is found in the two highest wealth quintiles, (36% in the upper middle) compared to just 11% of its rural population. It is a trend replicated elsewhere: In the Gambia, when less than one in four own a television set, 4% of the rural population falls in the upper middle class, compared to 36% of the urban population.
There is also a shift in international marketing focus to the younger middle class. Young Africans under the age of 20 already account for half of the population, and now those between 16-34 years account for nearly two-thirds of the continents billion-dollar worth of consumer spending, either directly or by influencing their already middle-class parents. The potential is enormous: By 2050, Africa’s under-18 population will increase by two-thirds, reaching almost 1 billion by the middle of the century.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and its most populous, is projected to hit its “economic sweet spot” in 2025, at which point significant numbers of its people will have begun earning more that US$10 a day, and the size of the resulting middle class is directly proportional to economic growth, though this could be hostage to external factors, such as volatile markets and commodity prices. But the net result will be a complete shift in the balance of regional geopolitical power, and possibly birth the continent’s first proper ‘superpower’.
By 2050, an Africa that is ‘emergent’ or better at redistributing its wealth, as is currently happening in a host of Asian and Latin American countries, would have tripled its share of global GDP, allowing 1.4 billion Africans, or four times the current count, to join the middle class. This will help temper the social unrest of a burgeoning continental population—which by 2050 will double to 2.4 billion.
... View more
The Africa Investors Conference 2015 starts in London today, 23 June. The three-day conference is co-hosted by us and ICBC Standard Bank. 270 delegates are attending the conference.
The conference creates opportunities for small group chats and one-on-one business meetings between African corporates and international investors which allows for great networking and investment opportunities in Africa. There are also panel discussions with policymakers.
This is the fifth year that Standard Bank Group is sponsoring this prestigious event. ICBC Standard Bank is involved for the first time this year.Last year’s event was attended by over 150 delegates including government ministers, central bankers, investors and corporates from African countries.
This year there are representatives from over 45 African corporates and 100 investors will be attending.
To join the conversation, follow @SBGroup.
... View more
The world has a habit of generalising about Africa, seeing the continent, her people and countries as one mass. Africans are also often viewed as ignorant with humble needs simply because their markets are underdeveloped.
Both views are wholly inaccurate. Though there are a number of regional truths and common attitudes such as Ubuntu (the belief that we are only people because of other people), African consumers are as diverse, complex and as sophisticated as consumers in any other part of the world. Needs, cultures, languages and beliefs can differ widely from country to country and even from town to town.
To develop and maintain a successful brand in any African country, marketers must connect with the consumer on their terms and display strong community mindedness. Extensive research conducted by leading marketing strategy, brand development and design agency Yellowwood, revealed some of the best techniques to engage with African target markets and to create long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.
Connecting with African Consumers – an eight-step journey
Invest, don’t extract
Marketers must make products that customers want, rather than making customers want products. In doing this, they will find many business opportunities and align with the attitudes of the local people.
For your brand to really matter to African customers, pay your taxes; find ways to lessen social ills, offer opportunities and paid collaborations, and transfer skills to staff.
Offer more for less
The majority of African consumers are poor and price sensitive, so brands that offer great value (more quantity and quality) will do well.
Be careful not to try to achieve this through cutting corners; there are too many competing producers who will find ways of doing things more efficiently and economically.
Technology, telecommunication and financial services are rapidly merging, supported by African innovations such as mobile money players. It is predicted that many other industries will do the same.
Convergence is easy when you start with the customer; understanding their unmet needs, priorities and social context allows you to define new industries, rather than recreating what already exists.
Bring people together
Marketing and communications that bring people together have huge potential in Africa where national identity is an ongoing process. Consumers are ready to embrace brands that provide a sense of community and unite different ethnicities, tribes and cultures.
Walk before you run
Marketers must have strategies for distribution, sourcing, product quality and pricing before any promises are made to consumers. It is equally important that constraints and abilities are understood. Functional benefits are good enough if you are the only business who can deliver them, or if you can deliver them in a more competitive way.
Listen before you speak
Show respect to the consumers in your market. Listen and respond to genuine needs, and add value to consumers rather than to try and force the latest trend on them.
Don’t change the culture
West is not necessarily best. The origin of certain brands can be helpful if that country is associated with positive attributes (German luxury cars, for example), but there is nothing inherently better about being a global brand and African consumers are proud their local culture.
To create marketing that is culturally relevant, collaborate with local artists, musicians, celebrities and designers.
Build something to believe in
African citizens are optimistic about the future. Brands that tap into this mood and enable consumers to do more with their lives will be most likely to succeed among African target markets.
Be bold, decisive, quick and creative
Enter Africa with an iterative, adaptive and experimental approach to marketing.
Youth culture and tastes change rapidly, so brands need to be bold and focused on creating relevant marketing.
Get them where they’re going
Brands must focus their energy on helping consumers attain their aspirations and ambitions. This requires market research and insight, as not all life goals are for bigger, better and more ‘bling’.
To survive, grow and thrive in African markets, you will need a sense of humour and adventure, as you will face many challenges. There will be setbacks, misunderstandings and deliveries that don’t arrive. Things may take longer than you expected or happen in very different ways - if they happen at all.
Don’t give up
Africa is a hard place. To stay in the game, create products, services and marketing that will withstand the reality of the markets in which you operate.
For marketers and business enterprises to successfully break new ground on the Africa continent, they will need to do away with their outdated biases and antique views. Each market must be respected and treated as a unique, complex region, and consumers must be recognised as distinct yet altruistic individuals with strong community ties.
In Africa, the key to success, prosperity and wealth is the human connection.
... View more
Fast-forward to the modern age of digital banking, and we are seeing a massive shift in both customer expectations, as well as the potential of new technology. Companies like Apple and Google have shown us the powerful links between the fields of technology, design and business – and how they converge to create incredible new experiences for customers.
Today, we’re looking at banking through the eyes of our users. We employ a number of principles to gain better understanding and empathy for a particular need, a particular context, or a particular problem.
But this transition to a mobile-based digital world raises a number of interesting questions about just how one can put the customer at the heart of their strategies. Consider, for example…
How do you compress someone’s entire financial world onto a device that’s small enough to fit in your pocket?
How do you cater for a customer who’s an individual, and also a small business owner, and also an organiser of a community fundraiser, etc?
How do you create a service for millions, but smartly tailor it to become personalised and relevant to one individual, at a specific point in time?
Read the first part of this blog series about placing the customer at the heart of our digital strategy here.
... View more
Throughout our history we have reached many milestones. In 2012 we celebrated our 150 th anniversary as a bank and now we can proudly celebrate one more milestone: Standard Bank Group has been in the business of banking in Namibia for 100 years.
In 1915, just a year after the First World War broke out, we set up in the diamond-rich desert territory of Namibia. The first branch opened in Luderitz and was followed closely by branches in Windhoek and Swakopmund. The banking operations in Namibia was controlled from South Africa in the beginning until a subsidiary company, today known as Standard Bank Namibia, was established.
As one of Namibia’s oldest companies, we are proud to be part of the changing face of Namibia and today we still remain focused on providing people with financial solutions that enable them to enrich their lives.
We've come a long since our first Namibian branch in Windhoek as photographed in 1915.
For more about Standard Bank Namibia go to www.standardbank.com.na.
... View more
Wearable devices are becoming more popular so at Standard Bank Group we've got a select group of people trying out our banking app for Apple Watch before we release it later this year.
Wearable devices are a category of technology devices that people wear and they usually track information such as health and fitness. More recently, wearables devices have synced with telecommunications devices to change the way we think about using mobile.
In Africa alone it is expected that internet access via mobile phones will grow rapidly. It makes sense that the next step for us would be to find a way to integrate banking with wearable devices. In the last few months we launched a first for mobile banking in Africa by introducing Apple TouchID for the Standard Bank banking app in South Africa.
At Standard Bank Group we are testing a banking app for Apple Watch. It should be generally available to Apple Watch owners in September 2015.
We are always looking for new ways to make the lives of people easier and the smart watch app will go that little bit further to helping people control their finances as and when they need. One of the features of the app is called Balance Peek and allows our customers to check their latest account balances without having to log onto internet banking or their smartphone app.
The Standard Bank app for Apple Watch will be followed by similar rollouts for Android-enabled watches towards the end of 2015.
... View more
The World Economic Forum took place from 3-5 June 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa. One of the most important topics covered was around the development of infrastructure that will attract private investment.
There were many speakers at the Forum and they shared similar thoughts that African countries need to create policies that will help change the social and economic conditions of our continent. Also high on the agenda was the need for national policies to support social issues such as health, education and food security.
We are also members of the African Strategic Infrastructure Initiative, which was launched at WEF in 2012. The aim of this initiative is to fast-track infrastructure projects and to find solutions. At this year’s WEF it was announced that 4 projects are almost complete and there are 15 more that are in progress.
We believe that we are at the start of an investment decade that will help solve the infrastructure gap in the hope of growing Africa and helping her reach her potential.
Read more about what our Group CE has to say about h ow finance can accelerate steady inclusive growth in Africa
... View more
Triathlons can be an expensive sport considering all the equipment needed for the three parts of the race. There is also the race entry cost, travel and nutrition which can be overwhelming if you have not budgeted accordingly. With all this to consider, it is vital that you don’t waste money on inferior or unsuitable equipment.
The best investment you can make is in a good wetsuit. It will make you a faster, more comfortable and confident swimmer. When purchasing a wetsuit, you need to make sure that you buy the correct type and size so that you don’t restrict movement or allow the water to seep in.
A swimming wetsuit is a highly sophisticated neoprene-rubber blend that is hydrophobic and has been specifically designed for comfort. In other words, the exterior actually repels water and helps you to move through the water faster. The arm and shoulder areas are thinner and more flexible so as not to limit your mobility or affect the reach of your stroke. The chest and parts of the legs will be thicker so as to help with your movement in the water.
Try to find a wetsuit manufacturer that allows you to try out demo suits to swim in, as you’ll only know if the suit fits correctly and comfortably in the water. It is vital that you choose a comfortable tri-suit or a two piece suit which you can wear under your wetsuit in order to comfortably continue with the rest of the race.
The biggest cost is undoubtedly, the bicycle. In your first few shorter races, any bike will probably do, as long as it has two wheels, a saddle and brakes that work. As you start improving and becoming more competitive, you will want to upgrade to a lighter, faster and more aero-dynamic machine. You will also need a cycling helmet to use in all training sessions and races, a good pair of cycling shoes, cycling kit and preferably sunglasses for eye protection.
Rather spend a bit more initially on the best and most suitable bike in your budget, than having to upgrade later on. Visit a reputable bike shop - preferably one that specialises in triathlons and get their advice on what would be best suited to your needs.
The running side is probably the easiest of the disciplines as you only really need a decent pair of running shoes and suitable clothing. Let a professional assess your running style and recommend the most suitable shoes for you to avoid injuries.
Once you have all the necessary equipment, you can focus on your training programme and preparing sufficiently for your first event.
Enjoy the journey and Never Stop Moving Forward.
... View more
When you consider 443 million school days are lost every year in Africa due to water borne diseases, you begin to appreciate the value of solutions which provide communities with safe and healthy drinking water.
Zimbabwean scientist, Dr Lloyd Muzangwa (pictured below), and his friend George Kahabuka, an engineer from Tanzania, created a water disinfection system, called the MAJI 1200, which uses ultraviolet (UV) light technology and solar energy to purify water.
The MAJI 1200 is basically maintenance free and allows communities in rural areas with solar power to implement an affordable solution which produces high volumes of clean water.
While chemical disinfectants destroy or damage a microbe's cellular structure, UV light deactivates microbes by damaging their DNA, thereby preventing the microbe's ability to replicate (or infect the host). UV light does not affect tastes or odours of water as chlorine does, and does not form harmful disinfection by-products, or increase bacterial regrowth in distribution systems.
Dr Muzangwa’s and Mr Kahabuka’s submission was announced as the winner of the ‘mid-stage’ (tested solutions, ready for first deployment) category of the Standard Bank Group Water4Africa competition, which saw them walking away with a prize of US$5,000 for the development of their MAJI 1200 water purification system.
The category was one of three that saw inventors from around the globe competing for top honours for their innovative work in developing water solutions that could be implemented across the African continent.
The MAJI 1200 is an exciting project from Africa which emerged from the Water4Africa challenge and promises to bring innovative world-class science and engineering knowledge about potable water to African water treatment. The system is already attracting interest in Zimbabwe and Tanzania and has the potential to open access to healthy water for millions of Africans.
... View more
A third of the world’s population without access to electricity lives in Africa. Highlighting projects that will help improve capacity across Africa, is the focus of the Africa Energy Forum (AEF), an international forum focused on power generation for Africa.
This year is the 17th Annual AEF which takes place from 8-11 June 2015 in Dubai. The conference is the largest event on African power and is set to welcome over 1,200 industry stakeholders, bringing together all the major players in the industry, to identify solutions to increase electricity capacity for the African continent.
Many African countries lose an estimated one to four percent of their GDP every year due to power cuts. Africa has yet to build two thirds of the additional power capacity needed by 2030.
Standard Bank Group will be attending the AEF, with a clear focus on powering Africa. The potential for Africa remains firmly on the radar of major investors.
Watch David Humphrey, Head of Power and Infrastructure at Standard Bank Group, talk more about the importance of the AEF in this short video.
... View more
Speaking on a panel discussion on Catalysing Capital in Africa at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, Standard Bank Group Chief Executive Sim Tshabalala had this to say:
“It is a true statement of fact that the continent is suffering from a severe deficit in infrastructure. It is also true that we have amongst the lowest investment GDP ratios in all the regions - about 22%. This suggests that we need to execute projects and investments that are developmental in nature and that give rise to terms that adequately remunerate those who are willing to take risks on those projects.
Investors would do well to partner with local players. Examples of public private partnerships that are working well are:
President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, where US$7 billion is being leveraged for energy infrastructure on the continent. Standard Bank is involved in a number of these projects in four countries, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya.
This is a classic example of mobilising not just capital but also know-how, advice and legal structures and thereby mobilising American resources, through the likes of GE, as well as local resources. We have several hundred million dollars invested in this project.
The second example is the Renewable Energy Power Producers Programme in South Africa. Here Standard Bank and its competitors have entered into partnerships that have made a significant difference to ending South Africa’s power deficit.
The final example is the Clean Development Mechanism where governments have access to carbon trading products offered by banks and thereby helping to generate revenue. One example is the Nelson Mandela Municipality in Port Elizabeth which, through this mechanism, has been able to provide the local community with 110 000 solar water heaters.”
... View more
More than 1250 leaders from business, politics, academia and civil society have come together to attend the 25th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, starting in Cape Town, South Africa today until Friday 5 June 2015.
Under the theme Then and Now: Reimagining Africa's Future, the Forum will be examining how far Africa has come economically, socially and politically since October 1990. By taking what was learnt from the past and bringing together some of the greatest minds of the present, the WEF is committed to helping shape Africa’s future.
Some Standard Bank Group delegates attending the WEF include Group Chief Executive Sim Tshabalala, Corporate & Investment Banking Chief Executive David Munro and Personal & Business Banking Chief Executive Peter Schlebusch.
... View more
Sim Tshabalala, chief executive at Standard Bank Group, says sub-saharan Africa’s steady and impressive economic growth remains on track, despite the recent weakening of commodity prices.
The World Bank forecasts average regional growth of 4 percent in 2015, or 4.7 percent if South Africa is excluded. In eleven key countries, 600 million new middle class households were created between 2000 and 2014. We expect to see an additional 14 million middle-class households created in these economies over the next 15 years. This growing consumer base is driving the diversification of Africa’s economies. Financial markets are widening and deepening, and more Africans are accessing formal banking services for the first time. The financial services sector is expected to contribute as much as 20 percent of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020. This rapid growth is accompanied by impressive sophistication in several cases.
The 2014-15 WEF Global Competitiveness Report ranks six sub-Saharan African countries among the top 60 performers for “financial markets development”. South Africa ranks seventh worldwide, while Kenya and Mauritius are in the top 30.
Financial depth is, as a general rule, good for growth and development. International Monetary Fund (IMF) research has shown that, as the ratio of credit to the private sector to GDP rises to around 0.76, growth is stimulated, peaking at around 1.5 percentage points of additional growth a year compared to an under-financialised economy.
Similarly, research by the World Bank and the UN shows that expanding access to financial products and services has a strongly positive impact on economic development. A 2007 World Bank study, for example, found a strong statistical relationship between financial development and faster growth in income for the poorest quintile of the population.
It also found that growth in private credit has a significant negative relationship with income inequality. The evidence is clear: In developing countries, more finance means more growth and inclusion.
This is not just abstract economic modelling. The financial services industry plays a crucial role in facilitating infrastructural and industrial development at national and regional levels.
And a broader, deeper financial sector facilitates the growth and prosperity of Africa’s businesses, from small scale entrepreneurs to large corporations. A few examples from our business over the past few months illustrate the point. Let’s start relatively small. In Lagos, Nigeria, we have just helped to improve the public transport system by financing the acquisition of 10 buses by a local company contracted by the Lagos government to operate part of the state’s Bus Rapid Transit scheme.
Moving several thousand kilometres south and from a small to a medium enterprise in Lesotho we have just provided a substantial loan to a mid-sized construction company. The company, which employs more than 600 skilled and semi-skilled workers, is contracted to deliver several important infrastructure projects for the Lesotho government, including a major water reticulation project, and construction of a national museum. Bank finance was crucial to enable it to make up-front payments and manage cash flow.
And turning to the very large, in South Africa, each of the major commercial banks have played a central role in delivering the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (PPPs) Programme, providing two-thirds of the required funding to date – that’s around R110 billion. This programme is now delivering sustainable, competitively priced green energy through dozens of public private partnerships.
The programme’s scale, profitability and success are attracting international investor interest and South Africa is now a world leader in renewable energy.
The African financial sector could finance even larger infrastructure PPPs. Given Africa’s rapid growth, favourable demographics and enormous infrastructure gaps, we can be absolutely confident of great investor interest in infrastructure PPPs whenever – and this is crucial – strong and clear regulation creates certainty that investment today will be rewarded with a fair and reliable return.
But Africa’s financial sector could be doing even more to promote inclusive growth. IMF research shows that bank credit to the private sector in Africa represents, on average, 15 percent of GDP, compared to more than 100 percent in many developing economies. The Global Findex Report 2014 finds that only 34 percent of adults in sub-Saharan Africa have a bank account (up from 24 percent in 2011).
While great progress is being made through mobile banking and mobile money transfer systems, far too many Africans remain under-served or excluded from the formal financial system.
To address this, we need a policy environment that prioritises inclusion in product design and distribution; a regulatory framework that supports fair and healthy competition among financial services providers and that simultaneously encourages the rapid adoption of new technologies that assist inclusion while ensuring consumer protection.
Greater regional co-operation and integration would also be very helpful.
Further movement towards more closely integrated regional financial systems would enable Africa’s banks to reach a more efficient scale, to manage risk more easily, and to allocate capital and liquidity more effectively. WEF Africa provides Africans with an excellent opportunity to make headway. I’m sure we’ll use it well.
... View more
Peter Schlebusch, Chief Executive of Personal and Business Banking at Standard Bank Group, says the majority of our transactions will be performed on smart-mobile devices in the next 3-5 years.
“In the next three to five years the vast majority of our transactions will be performed on smart-mobile devices.” Retail banking is experiencing a seismic shift in customer behaviour thanks to the digital revolution that continues to effect fundamental changes in the way businesses and individuals transact. Nowhere is this metamorphosis in customer behaviour more profound than in Africa.
While much has been written about the rise of Africa’s middle class, which is expected to reach half a billion people by 2030, less is known about the extraordinary growth in mobile and broadband penetration on the continent.
An Ericsson Mobility report shows that mobile subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa will rise to 930 million by the end of 2019, from 635 million at the end of 2014. To put that growth in perspective, there were less than 2 million mobile phone users in Africa in 1998.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s mobile penetration rate of 70 percent is also rapidly closing in on the global average which stood at 92 percent in 2013. According to the Mobile Africa 2015 study by GeoPoll and World Wide Worx, internet browsing via mobile smart devices now stands at 40 percent across the core sub-Saharan Africa markets of South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda. We expect internet browsing via smart mobile devices to grow exponentially as data costs in Africa decline.
Already we are seeing huge investment in data by mobile operators, municipalities, malls, retailers, banks and private companies across the continent. Standard Bank has installed free Wi-Fi in many branches across South Africa and plans to expand that to the rest of the continent in the near future. Municipalities such as Stellenbosch are already providing free Wi-Fi to their citizens while a cursory glance at the financials of any mobile operator in Africa shows that the bulk of their revenue growth is coming from data rather than voice services.
The implications this has for financial services companies will be profound. Just as much of sub-Saharan Africa leapfrogged fixed-line telephony and progressed straight to mobile telecommunications, so too will many individuals on the continent skip the traditional branch-based banking paradigm and move straight to mobile transacting.
This is particularly pertinent given that the African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that 80 percent of African households don’t have bank accounts. We believe that the advent of mobile banking will radically alter that figure in coming years.
The Ericsson Mobility report indicates that 58 percent of sub-Saharan Africa mobile users are interested in using mobile banking and mobile wallets. That represents a massive opportunity for banks that are willing to embrace new technology as a means of meeting the basic customer need for ease of access, convenience and 24-hour availability.
Of course, this will require that banks make a radical shift in the way they view mobile banking. One can no longer simply view mobile banking as one of many channels to supply financial services to customers. Banking in Africa needs to be premised on the “always-mobile” concept.
Standard Bank’s mobile transactions are already growing at more than 50 percent a year in terms of the volume of transactions. In the next three to five years the vast majority of our transactions will be performed on smart-mobile devices.
Our belief that the future of banking in Africa will be mobile is underpinned by the fact that the three main impediments to mobile adoption – handset affordability, data costs and mobile banking security – are on the cusp of being eliminated.
Smart mobile devices are already available for less than $50 (R607). The propensity of many customers to upgrade their smart mobile devices every one to two years has also resulted in a large supply of used devices that are typically handed down to family and friends or sold on the second-hand market for as little as $30, effectively removing one of the biggest barriers to mobile banking adoption.
The rapid evolution of mobile security measures such as biometric recognition and security has also radically improved perceptions about the safety of mobile banking. Standard Bank can say with confidence that our mobile banking platform is the safest channel we have.
Our technology is able to use fingerprint scanning as well as SIM card and device verification before processing any payment. Combined with the use of text messaging to inform clients that a transaction has been performed, our clients are able to enjoy immense confidence in the security of our mobile banking platforms.
Although Ericsson Mobility says that 47 percent of sub-Saharan Africa mobile users still feel that mobile data is expensive, Standard Bank’s view is that the continent is facing a data revolution that will radically alter the future of banking across the region.
The large scale investment in data that we are witnessing across the continent at the moment will result in a dramatic drop in costs in the near future. That will make transacting and banking on mobile devices the preferred option.
That is why Standard Bank has invested heavily in introducing revolutionary mobile payment solutions such SnapScan, MasterPass and InstantMoney as well as our mobile app. The increasing societal shift towards a cashless society has already seen over 12 000 merchants and more than 200 000 customers sign up for SnapScan while Instant Money has processed more than R6.5 billion of money sends from person-to-person in South Africa alone.
That’s not to say that card-based payments will disappear completely, but rather that they will increasingly be integrated into mobile platforms. Customers can already load their card details onto mobile apps, thereby enabling them to make payments with their mobile device without ever having to retrieve their credit cards from their wallets.
Standard Bank’s partnership with Snapscan enables our mobile payments app to automatically communicate with iBeacons using Near Field Communication technology. That way if a customer is about to conduct a purchase in a shop, the Standard Bank app will automatically inform the iBeacon of its presence and begin loading the impending transaction details for payment authorisation. This will allow customers to transact via their mobile phones without having to wait in queues to access till points.
These initiatives are all central to our strategy of placing the customer at the centre of our banking universe and providing fast, convenient and “always-mobile” banking solutions that can essentially be carried around in our customers’ pockets.
One of the key differentiators of the new Standard Bank app, apart from biometric security, is that it provides customers with a single-view platform for all our service offerings. That enables customers to access their business and personal accounts as well as insurance, wealth management and trade shares easily on 29 stock exchanges around the world via a single 24/7 smart mobile interface.
Our customers across Africa are changing and we are proactively changing with them. Those who don’t build now for the future will miss the digital wave and the opportunities that it brings.
... View more
Take an inventive Britton living in Australia with a passion for environmental sustainability and green technologies. Mix with a love for travel, add in exposure to underdeveloped countries facing problems caused by poor or a lack of water resources - and you have a recipe for the invention of an innovative water saving device that is changing lives.
For Stuart Mason, the inventor of the SpaTap, and the recipient of a US$10,000 prize in Standard Bank’s Water 4 Africa competition, the recent win represents an opportunity to see his invention being used in sub-Saharan Africa where it is estimated that 334 million people need access to clean water.
He says his ambition is to see every child in Africa can have their own tap for life.
SpaTap’s uniqueness lies in its valve which transforms a plastic bottle into a shower or tap. The advantage is that people are knee-deep in plastic bottles. The SpaTap enables these to be repurposed into something functional. Simply attach the SpaTap to any bottle and transform it into a portable tap or shower.
The Water 4 Africa competition was a crowdsourcing initiative, via Standard Bank’s IdeaScale platform, to attract people from Africa and around the world to put forward suggestions on solving Africa’s water supply dilemmas.
Water 4 Africa encouraged all sectors of the community to compete by entering innovative ideas and projects, in various stages of development, to provide solutions around the supply and conservation of clean water.
The belief is that the SpaTap, which is being used for disaster relief in Vanuatu, is that this solution could find broad applications in sub-Saharan Africa too. It is also encouraging that the product has been recognised as a water saving and hand-washing device for schools by the World Vision organisation.
The Water 4 Africa campaign is one of the contributions Standard Bank is making to bring people together, to create real solutions to real problems that Africa.
Image below: Stuart Mason inventor of the SpaTap delivering water solutions across Africa
... View more
The Equator Principles Association is a framework that financial institutions use to help determine, assess and manage risk when it comes to environmental and social projects.
As part of our own principles, we try to fund businesses that are environmentally and socially responsible across Africa and help in the development of the continent's growth. This is a first for an African bank and we are proud to be appointed as the new chair.
We welcome the opportunity to chair the Equator Principles Financial Institution to help conduct responsible business across emerging and established markets.
For more information about this, please click here
... View more
Banking has come a long way in the past 10 years or so. It is regarded as one of the industries that has truly embraced new, innovative technologies – to improve the lives of customers, and create operational efficiencies for the bank.
South Africa is certainly one of the most forward-looking countries in this space. We’ve been quick to adopt online and mobile channels, and to move away from things like cheques, and telephonic banking.
Let’s take a step back for a moment: As the concept of self-service banking (like online banking and ATMs) picked up momentum in the early 2000s, banks’ focused on “exposing” services and making them available on these channels.
Being able to simply present services that were hosted on mainframe, legacy systems was the name of the game – and there was little scope to think deeply about the customer experience. As long as customers could largely find what they’re looking for, and make secure transactions, that was enough.
In this era, form was very much led by function.
Read the second part of this blog series about design-led thinking here.
... View more
The Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 Durban is officially sold out with 3000 athletes set to line up at Snake Park Beach on 2 August 2015. The race has sold out just four months after entries opened and looks set to be an exciting addition to the South African triathlon calendar.
“It is always an exciting moment when launching a new event and extremely encouraging to see such strong interest. The Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 Durban was a long-term project that started more than three years ago but we felt that the timing had to be right for the city and for the South African triathlete base to introduce the race. To have reached 3000 in the first year proves that our patience has been worth it and that triathlon in South Africa is growing as a sport,” said Paul Wolff, World Endurance Africa Holdings’ Director of Operations.
The 1.9km swim, 90.1km bike and 21.1km run will showcase some of the best elements of the East Coast City and allows athletes to take in the sights of the breath-taking Durban coastline while on a course that is considered fast and highly competitive. The swim will take place at Snake Park Beach with the bike course heading along the M4 towards Zimbali. The run course will take athletes along the Promenade where spectators can be part of the action and welcome the athletes to the finish in front of Suncoast, which will become race central consisting of the registration and expo venues, race office and the transition area. The number of entrants makes the event the biggest triathlon ever to be staged in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the second biggest in Africa in terms of athlete numbers.
“Standard Bank Group is very pleased to see that its involvement with the IRONMAN brand in South Africa has already resulted in an expansion of the local series of events,” said Nikki Twomey, Executive Head for Marketing and Communications at Standard Bank Group. “We are thrilled that the local triathlon has embraced the addition of the Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 Durban to the local triathlon calendar. We feel the city of Durban has all the attributes to become a world class IRONMAN 70.3 venue and look forward to doing our part to growing this event and taking it to new heights in the future.”
For those who missed out on an entry, there is still a chance to be part of the race. The IRONMAN 4 the Kidz Charity Trust has a limited number of charity entries available. For more information on the IRONMAN 4 the Kidz Charity entries visit www.ironman4thekidz.co.za or email Julia Banach on [email protected]
For more information on the Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 Durban visit www.ironman.com/durban70.3.
For more information about our sponsorshhip, visit www.standardbank.co.za/ironman.
... View more
Africa is the core of what we do, we are committed to seeing growth in Africa reach its full potential. We believe our continent is on the cusp of something big, that a positive African movement and dialogue is gathering global momentum and our future is inspiring.
We are African. We are her partner for growth and we will never stop moving her and her people from moving forward.
... View more
We have an experienced team that makes sure that your Foreign Exchange projects work best for you. With a variety of international and local clients, we have a great understanding of how the bigger picture comes together. Our focus is on potential. We manage the complexities for you so that you can focus on moving forward to achieve global growth.
... View more
As risk management professionals it is our job to see the big picture. We help you maximise revenue while mitigating risk so that you can keep moving forward and achieve your growth potential.
... View more
What makes an IRONMAN? Endurance, hard work and commitment to be in it for the long haul. As a business with a 150 year history we are an organisation that resonates with the Ironman values. We are dedicated to moving our customers forward.
... View more
In IRONMAN, as in life, you have to keep moving forward regardless of the obstacles that confront you. The values of commitment, grit, determination and the desire to succeed are ideals we uphold in our own business.
It is only through hard work and dedication that has kept us as the leading bank on the continent and we will continue to move our customers forward, regardless of the obstacles ahead.
... View more
Mario Coluna was one of the world's most influential and comprehensively gifted football players throughout the 1960s. After a successful European career as captain of Benfica and Portugal, Coluna returned to his native Mozambique. Although he basked in global limelight nothing compared to returning home where his achievements were nationally recognised. Coluna went on to coach the national team and later became the head of Mozambique's football federation and also sports minister.
A proud African on the world stage, combining physical authority, elegance and style. Mario Coluna was unstoppable to the end, inspiring us to Never Stop Moving Forward.
... View more
Last year Standard Bank, a champion of small business, sponsored a show titled “Think Big” - a business building show.
The show provided insight into the challenges and opportunities facing SMEs in South Africa by taking the 12 challengers through a series of tests to prove their entrepreneurial spirt.
“Think Big” placed an emphasis on business plans, as an invaluable planning tool that can help businesses of all sizes to succeed.
The show encouraged the 12 entrepreneurs to “Think Big” about conquering the day-to-day challenges of running a business, with the opportunity to win a R1 million cash injection into their business.
Over a 10 week period the winning entrepreneur displayed their passion, energy, skills and their business acumen needed to contribute to South Africa's economic growth.
Helping the entrepreneurs meet the challenges, were some of South Africa’s leading captains of business and industry such as Claire Busetti, Director at Venture Capital and Makho Ngcobo, Chief Executive, Contento Group.
You can watch all of the episodes and follow the 12 contestants as they learn valuable business skills.
... View more