Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, suggested Victor Hugo, French literary genius, in 1852.

Capitec was – and is still – such an idea, but you might not have thought so at the time. At the beginning of the 21st century, the general consensus was that everyone needed banking, but who really needed a bank? The internet had arrived and was here to stay. Traditional banks were wondering how to evolve from bricks to clicks.

Along came Capitec, with its powerful, timely idea. It didn’t need to concern itself about reinventing tradition: it just captured a gap in the market.

That gap was the dire need for a banking solution for a large sector that was underserviced by traditional banks, a sector that needed smaller loans and consultants who understood their banking needs.

At PSG Group, Jannie Mouton and Chris Otto had been mulling over this conundrum: how does one provide banking for those in need of affordable and simplified banking? They knew just who to call: Michiel le Roux.

Along with the first MD, Riaan Stassen, and a small team who believed in the idea, Michiel set about building a very different bank. It would be built from the “client up”, rather than the “service provider down”.

The team did this by tackling the hard yards first: understanding the client experience in the traditional banking system. They spoke to clients, stood in queues and experienced the client touchpoints first-hand. They came to understand the gap in the market clearly and then they began to make banking better. Much better. More understandable, more respectful, and truly helpful.

The beauty of the Capitec story is reflected in the systematic approach to servicing the client in ways they never thought possible. It’s in the singular focus on the client experience and their financial wellbeing, and it’s at the centre of most conversations in the Capitec corridors.

Another, indispensable key to success are the people who make ideas come alive. Capitec is a prime example of a handpicked leadership team with Gerrie Fourie at the helm; people who own a single, shared vision and the determination to succeed, against many odds, never giving up, and constantly improving on what has gone before. It is also the people who have made it one of the most task and implementation-orientated businesses in South Africa. In 20 short years, a high-performance culture has been created and is lived by the entire Capitec family.

The brand is trusted because isn’t it always better to under-promise and then over-deliver? At Capitec it’s about the client and simplifying the banking experience to make it more convenient. At its heart lies innovation and the seamless implementation of new ideas based on its founding principles – simplicity, affordability, accessibility, and personal service.

Capitec has always challenged the status quo by thinking differently to traditional banks and coming up with solutions that are cost effective, simple, transparent and client focused. Capitec was the first to question why retail banks only operated from 9am – 3.30pm when nine out of10 people walking into a branch are working. In the early 2000s, the bank was the first to introduce biometric finger scanners instead of signatures, which then turned into the bank leading the charge with paperless banking in
branches a few short years later.

And more importantly, one of the primary fundamentals of the bank was and still is the real-time handling of client requests and transactions. The app was built specifically to address this by introducing seamless digital banking that could be done from anywhere, at any time. No more long queues at branches and ATMs when your money is at your fingertips. Immediate payments are offered at the low cost of R7.50 where it is about R50 for other banks. It also introduced free digital payments tools such as Pay Me and Scan to Pay. The Capitec banking app has since become one of the busiest apps in Africa, riveling major social media platforms.

Today, the bank is South Africa’s best and biggest digital bank with over 17 million clients. And the aim? To challenge, disrupt and innovate, not just for innovation’s sake, but rather to continue meeting client needs.

Clients needed a rewards programme and Capitec launched Live Better, which gives clients real cash back to spend how and when they choose without the need to jump through hoops or meet certain criteria. This is supported by automatic savings tools built into the app.

Clients needed a way to check false documents and Capitec partnered with SkyQR to launch an industry leading solution to combat fraud and protect consumers by putting a unique QR code on all official Capitec documents such as payment notifications and bank statements. This can be scanned to confirm that a document is legitimate and has not been tampered with. Since the partnership started a year ago, over 81 million QR codes have been generated by Capitec clients.

Clients needed a bank that could walk the journey and Capitec launched home loans, vehicle loans and increased its credit card limit to R500 000. Now Capitec grows as their clients grow with a future fit roadmap designed for South Africans.

After 21 years of building what is now a fully-fledged bank, for Capitec the job is not over yet. It has only just begun.

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