SMEs struggle to find simple, smart, accessible banking solutions 


SMEs struggle to find simple, smart, accessible banking solutions 

Here’s what they need to fuel SA’s growth 


While the growth of South Africa’s SMEs has often been cited as a potential panacea to the country’s economic woes, these businesses typically struggle to access a full suite of business banking products. Employing up to 60% of South Africa’s workforce and contributing 34% of GDP, only 14% of SMEs are formalised, limiting their access to the financial services that could help them grow, and employ even more people.


Chief Executive of Sasfin’s newly unified business and commercial banking division, Sandile Shabalala, is resolute in his drive to change this status quo, and in just over three months in the role, has already identified ways and means for the bank to expand its business banking offerings for this underserved but vitally important segment of the economy.


As the launch CEO of the fully digital TymeBank, building it to more than 1,000,000 customers by the time he moved on from there in 2019, Shabalala has particular insights into what business banking clients really need.


“Many business owners feel like their banks just don’t ‘get them’, and they see banking processes as onerous and tedious, lacking in transparency and flexibility,” Shabalala explains. “They’re looking for a partner that understands their needs – and that has created solutions that respond directly to their business requirements, whether it’s for day to day transactions or by helping businesses grow by making funding available to them.”


McKinsey research found that slow bank lending processes, such as an insistence on hard-copy documentation and branch visits, was behind SMEs’ slow uptake of the COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme. These slow processes are typical of many applications and transactions in South African banking, with the research highlighting how significant a barrier to accessing necessary finance these processes really are.


“These factors are at play in SMEs’ everyday operations, and not just in the context of the COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme,” Shabalala says. “When your working day is consumed with keeping your business alive, you don’t have time to fill in forms, get documents certified, or stand in long queues during banks’ limited operating hours.”


Streamlining access to growth funding 


“SMEs need solutions that create value via streamlined customer service interfaces, and with a single point of contact. Having access to this level of understanding from your business bank will take a weight off an entrepreneur’s mind while giving them access – at their fingertips – to a range of financial products and services that will help them sustain and grow their operations.”


“When it comes to accessing funding, SMEs need relevant products with simple processes that are completed with as few touchpoints as possible so that they can get quick decisions that empower them to make the best choices for their business,” he explains.


The customer must be at the heart of SME banking


The best way to find out what SME banking customers want is to talk to them, and Shabalala is firm in his resolve that Sasfin’s strategy is not about pushing one product across the sector, but is rather about having broader conversations to build relationships with customers so that the bank can enhance its value offering to them.


“The only way we can be effective as growth solutionists, is by ensuring that we immerse ourselves more deeply with the customer and bring senior expertise to the table. By way of example, we have a vastly experienced, senior and solution-driven credit committee where our Group CEO actively participates, which is very rare,” he notes, adding that Sasfin’s specialist dealmakers are willing to provide value-added service and advice beyond simply offering a loan, a unique point of difference for the SME segment. 


“It’s important to these business owners that their banks are accessible to them, whether that’s through well-trained and insightful client service representatives that are readily available or whether it’s through accelerating our digital-first approach that puts the full power of our banking suite at their fingertips so that they can manage their finances when they need to, wherever they may be,” he concludes.


With a focus on simplification and taking the complexity out of banking for the women and men who are at the coalface of building businesses, creating jobs, and growing the economy, Shabalala is focused on putting power back in his customers’ hands, empowering them with the tools that they really need.


For more information contact [email protected] or call 021 419 3144.

– – – –

Brandstories Disclaimer:

Brandstories is not liable for the contents of the information published on this platform. The information which subscribers publish on this website is for general information purposes only and Brandstories facilitates the ability for viewers and subscribers to access this platform. Subscribers who publish their content on Brandstories are held responsible for their own content. This includes ensuring that it is factually accurate, grammatically correct, free of spelling errors, and does not contain unsavoury content that could result in legal action. In the case of linguistic translations, the onus is on the client to ensure that the translation is accurate. In no event does Brandstories make representations or warranties of any kind, expressed or implied about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information supplied and published. This website includes links to other websites, including third party websites. Brandstories does not recommend, endorse or support any views that are held by subscribers publishing information, and within these links provided. Furthermore, Brandstories does not have control over the nature, contents and availability of information contained on these sites. Any form of reliance readers and consumers may place on information published on Brandstories is strictly at their own risk. Brandstories makes every effort to ensure that the website is up and running smoothly at all times, however Brandstories does not take responsibility for, and will not be held liable for times when the website is temporarily unavailable due to technical glitches that are beyond our control.

Established for 20 years, the MediaWeb Group has built a reputation for the highest quality of digital storytelling and content distribution, specifically for industry-leading brands. This has been achieved by a two-decade journey of selecting an extensive network of senior writers, journalists, producers and videographers who create world-class content for distribution across media channels.