The Rise and Fall of FNB - More erratic Account Closures

20 Nov 2019 | Ralph M Ertner
FNB closes more Accounts

Following our recent summary of the current policy of FNB to get rid of customers who complain about lack of service or demand rectification of erroneous banking fees levied, the policy of the current Board to terminate all accounts that are inconvenient continues.

In a most recent wave of account closures it now hit also prominent cryptocurrency dealers such as LUNO, ICE3X and VALR and their accounts – although being maintained without flaw – have been terminated, causing a significant inconvenience for those customers, who funded their Cryptocurrency Accounts through their FNB Bank Account.

Official reason is – please do not laugh but the creative team for bogus reasons seems to run out of fake excuses:

FirstRand Bank has been considering its risk appetite in respect of virtual currencies and virtual currency exchanges for some time.

Within this context the bank has taken the decision to discontinue the provision of banking services to virtual currency exchanges and/or entities dealing/trading in virtual currency.

This excuse is not only incorrect as far as FNB was not the trader of cyber currencies but simply the bank account holder for entities, who did, it was also not exposed to any risk as the only transactions concerned are regular EFT transactions between FNB customers. So the hidden agenda needs to undergo scrutiny and leaves only one out of two possible motivations:

  1. FNB sees the lucrative business of cryptocurrency trading and will surprisingly soon after this termination offer the service themselves; or
  2. FNB has again not rendered the expected level of service in their relationship to the affected companies and instead of improving or rectifying chose – yet again – the easy way out and to terminate. This time with giving reason (sic!).

The landscape of banking is about to change. The blackmail and coercion through the existing Banking Mafia is finding its end with scores of new, modern and service-oriented banks hitting the streets, while the “Four point Five” dinosaurs (Capitec counts as young Dinosaur) wallow in ill-perceived security that nothing can happen to them and that they are above the law.

Well – believe it or not – they are not and dwindling client bases in favour of growing customers to other banks outside the Quintet from Hell speak a clear language. BrandsEye has released its 2019 South African Banking Sentiment Index, revealing which banks’ customers are threatening to bail – and where they would rather bank instead.

The 2019 South African Banking Sentiment Index analysed consumer social media posts about the five major retail banks from September 2018 to August 2019. The group analysed over 1.9 million social media posts relating to South Africa’s five retail banks – namely Absa, Capitec, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank – as well as 68,500 posts relating to new entrants into the market, such as Bank Zero, Discovery Bank and TymeBank. Posts were tracked across various platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

BrandsEye uses topic analyses to gauge the sentiment of posts (either positive or negative), across 73 topics, and seven broad categories, including reputation, customer service, pricing and customer retention. According to BrandsEye, across the industry, around 7.7% of tracked conversations were around cancelling bank accounts.

FNB had the highest Volume of Cancellation Conversations

FNB has to start feeling the desired result to become bank without customers as it is a bank without service at 2.3 points above the industry average for cancellations of accounts (10%), compliments of their new “No Service policy”, also known as “Shut Up or Walk policy”. The bank’s cancel volumes peaked in March due to consumers threatening to move their accounts after allegations of racism over home loans that were issued by Saambou and taken over by FNB in 2002. Nearly half of industry cancel conversation s(49.2%) impacted FNB (see our article “The Rise and Fall of FNB”).

After FNB, Absa and Standard Bank face the next highest risk of losing customers, BrandsEye said.

Standard Bank had the highest proportion of customers threatening to leave their bank while citing other banks. This suggests that Standard Bank clients may be at greater risk of churning, given that other options are being directly considered in cancellation threats, the group said. “Consumers are sensitive to downtime and expect always-on access to their banking facilities. Standard Bank and Absa were the other banks that had higher-than-industry values for cancellation at 1.4 pp. Both of these banks received cancellation threats in response to system errors and technical errors with digital channels.”

The Rise is long over the Fall accelerates, when is FNB leading by example and closes its doors and finally cures the nation of its cancerous presence?

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