FNB shuts branches as online banking and ATMs grow

BE VIGILANT: You should never disclose your PIN to anyone - not even a bank employee or a family member - First National Bank has warned PHOTO: ANTONIO MUCHAVE
BE VIGILANT: You should never disclose your PIN to anyone - not even a bank employee or a family member - First National Bank has warned PHOTO: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

One of South Africa’s big four banks has announced job cuts and the closure of some branches as it accelerates the conversion of its customers to digital and pressure to reduce costs in a struggling economy.

“Some sales and service outlets close to our full-service branches were identified as not being well utilized by customers and these functions are being transferred into the nearby full-service branch. We anticipated that about 25 sales and service outlets will be affected‚” Lee-Anne van Zyl‚ CEO of FNB Points of Presence‚ said in a statement.

“We expect that the process will run for several months. While a small percentage of employees will be affected‚ we are unable to make a statement at this stage regarding any job losses as redeployment‚ natural attrition including retirements and resignations together with expansion of other business‚ will all have a substantial role to play.”

She emphasised that no full-service branches are affected and that FNB is continuing to extend its network of ATMs and Advanced ATMs able to take cash and cheque deposits.

Bloomberg reported that almost 600 positions would be lost at FNB‚ but more than 500 people at the company may be able to apply for other roles‚ according to Vanessa Hattingh‚ a representative from Sasbo‚ a labour union which acts on behalf of more than 50% of the bank’s staff.

About 10% of the bank’s branches would be affected‚ with 40 closing and another 31 reducing staff‚ she told Bloomberg.

Van Zyl said the changes came about following a review of branch-related functions that began in mid-2015 “as a result of our implementation of digital migration and automation aligned to the bank’s strategy”.

“We determined that there was some duplication of levels in our different outlets‚ and unrealized efficiencies in our points of presence.

“We are now applying measures to further improve the performance of the bank’s branch network. The process will commence in early February and run through to May 2016.”

Van Zyl said cost savings are expected from FNB’s investments in risk prevention and identity confirmation infrastructure — including online fingerprint verification in partnership with the Department of Home Affairs.

FirstRand reported only a slight increase in half-year profit earlier this month‚ as weak consumption and investment spending weighed. Reuters quoted the bank as saying the slowing economy – due to drought and the collapse in commodity prices – had tempered corporate credit demand.

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