First National Bank branch
A previous high-tech FNB branch experiment. (File)
  • South Africa's banks are closing branches – but not everywhere.
  • In December it is opening a total of five new "community branches", First National Bank said on Wednesday, and another opened in Delft in late November.
  • It is planning 20 more such new branches in 2022.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

During the course of December it will open five new "community branches" in various parts of South Africa, First National Bank said on Wednesday – and it has plans for 20 more in 2022.

South African banks have been closing physical points of presence fast, sometimes in large batches, and sometimes by more gradual shrinking. But, on occasion, a competitor has opened up where another bank closed down, and some previously unserved or under-served communities remain attractive to the big banks.

First National Bank has pushed adoption of its mobile app hard, and has long prided itself on its customer-facing technology.

But "[t]ruly digital does not mean branchless, in fact branches remain valuable spaces for interpersonal customer advice and assistance," FNB owner Firstrand said in its last annual report.

At the time, it reported a small decline in its physical points of presence, including both branches and agencies, from 604 in 2020 to 599 in 2021.

The five branches opening in December are in:

  • Katlehong, in Gauteng
  • Midway Crossing, in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Kuyasa Mall, in the Eastern Cape
  • Rocklands, in the Free State
  • Tibane Mall, in Limpopo

Another community branch in Delft Mall, in the Western Cape, was opened in late November.

The community branches range from tiny – 70 square metres – to a pretty small at 180 square metres.

Upstart competitor Bank Zero has remained online, while its peer TymeBank has relied on terminals in grocery stores. Capitec, on the other hand, has 840 branches.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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