Capitec's client base now 20 million

Bigger than population of Zim
The bank has rapidly changed how it operates and expanded to new territories in the past 22 years.
Londiwe Buthelezi - In just 22 years of its existence, SA's biggest digital banker Capitec has surpassed the number of customers of its 185-year-old rival FNB, or 160-year-old Standard Bank.

Capitec, which turned 22 on 1 March, has reached a 20-million client milestone. It officially has more clients than the populations of either the Netherlands, Zimbabwe or Senegal.

"We are incredibly grateful for the trust that over 20 million clients have placed in us. We have spent years trying to meet and exceed our clients' needs at every step of their financial journey. At Capitec, it's about the client," said Capitec CEO Gerrie Fourie.

In those 22 years, Capitec's share price moved from less than R1 to more than R1 600. It climbed as high as R2 273.48 on 4 April 2022.

Capitec has looked to shake up how banks operate, opening its branches till much later in the day and servicing customers on weekends too. It later switched from a primarily in-branch service bank to offer more of its services on a mobile app, including loan applications, which it processes in real time.

But the bank grew much more rapidly in the past four years.

It took six years to double its clients from 5 million in 2013 to 10 million in 2019. But from 2019 to March 2023, it added another 10 million people.

New areas

Over those years, the bank also rapidly expanded to new areas like student loans, home loans, vehicle loans and business banking.

It partnered with SA Home Loans to launch its branded 'digitally-led' home loans and now has 2 200 home loan clients.

It also bought Mercantile Bank to venture into the SME lending space. After that, Capitec followed other banks' lead on loyalty programmes, launching the Live Better rewards programme. That programme now has more than 13.4 million active clients.

But Fourie said what the bank learned in this 22-year journey is to keep things simple. Doing so has significantly reduced the bank's operational complexity and costs.

"One of the biggest lessons we've learnt as a bank over the last 22 years is the importance of keeping things simple. That's why we continue to offer a single Global One bank account without complicated point systems or tiers to determine the service quality we offer a diverse group of clients," he said.

He said the bank had built a strong muscle to adapt in the constantly changing and highly competitive market, and there's more to come.

"After 22 years, it's not over for us yet – it has only just begun," he said. – Fin24