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The South African banking industry is rapidly evolving in response to regulatory changes, economic pressures, technological advances and innovation in the digital realm. 

"The evolution of technology and increased customer expectations combined with the emergence of disruptive competitors, is placing significant pressure on the banking industry to implement new strategies to remain relevant in the future," said Jorge Camarate, strategy partner in PwC’s financial services division.

The growth of unexpected players emerging in the financial services industry has created what has been called a "marketplace without boundaries", the financial services firm said.

In response to the growing threat in the retail banking industry, the 'four universal banks' – Barclays Africa, Standard Bank, Nedbank and FirstRand – are progressively finding new ways to enable them to stay relevant in the growing market.

These four banks have the principal advantage of being able to serve a sizeable share of South Africa’s retail business and corporate banking customers, unlike their challengers. 

In order to maintain this advantage, they will need to develop strong data analytics capabilities and develop new solutions to better meet the needs of their customers, as well as find efficiencies in their legacy businesses to fund the large-scale transformation effort required, PwC said.

There are three developing trends in the market that could impact the banking landscape, as well as the profitability of these four universal banks: 

  1. The emergence of digital solutions with lower-cost models launched by adjacent financial services players;

  2. The emergence of sector and industry-specific bans, closely integrated with broader supply chains, launched by non-financial services players; and

  3. The ongoing transformation of the four banks to address changing customer, regulatory and technology needs.

In recent years, the market has seen other players in the financial service industry diversifying their services offering by introducing digitally-enabled banking solutions to provide better customer experience at lower costs. It said that the four universal banks in South Africa are responding to advancing digital disruption by making significant investments in digital transformation.



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