How Fintech is making traditional banking better

20 July 2017Francois Viviers, Capitec Bank

Financial technology (Fintech) is transforming the way we bank by combining machine learning, behavioural economics and Big Data to understand what drives our decision making, enhance financial literacy, facilitate seamless transactions, and drive the use of crypto-currencies like Bitcoin. Digital disruptor Capitec Bank is spearheading the use of cognitive computing in South Africa by partnering with global leaders in financial innovation.

With over three million companies specialising in FinTech around the world, financial technology is quickly becoming a global buzzword and is actively disrupting the traditional banking sphere. While some banks balk at the change perceiving it as a threat, Capitec sees it as an opportunity.

Francois Viviers, Executive: Marketing and Communications at Capitec Bank says, “Machine Learning and other cognitive technologies are facilitating a level of personalised banking that was never attainable in the past. With the advancement of technology comes an advanced understanding of what people really need to bank better in order to live better. We’re heading towards a paperless, cashless society where your bank will help you manage your money better. Your whole financial world will be available on one platform uniquely tailored to your needs.”

As a tech-driven company, here’s how Capitec sees FinTech changing banking for the better:

We’re heading for a cashless society:

Increasingly, the use of bitcoin and other crypto-currencies is making cash redundant. This is due to the block chain distributed database innovation, which allows for a continuously expanding list of peer-to-peer validated records, which can’t be retroactively altered. This makes it transparent and secure. Bitcoin uses block chain and its model has since been successfully emulated as crypto-currencies gain popularity and trust.

Branches will remain important but roles will shift:

Apps are eliminating the need for people to physically visit banks by providing all the necessary capabilities online. This means traditional banking roles are shifting to accommodate more of an educational bent, with the goal to equip people to use the digital tools and knowledge necessary to manage their day to day banking needs.

Online marketplaces are gathering momentum:

Peer-to-peer lending platforms like Lending Club are providing massive online marketplaces that are disrupting traditional investment models. Additionally, people are turning to ‘robo-advisors’ – automated investing services – to manage their investments via smart advice from machine learning algorithms and big data.

Apps are changing financial behaviour:

Apps like are elevating financial literacy and making it easier to budget than ever before. Viviers says, “People’s behavioural data will play a big role in informing the apps of tomorrow. Our app already offers people a seamless way to integrate banking into day-to-day life, with the capability to save, transact and budget for free.”

Payments are simpler:

It’s never been easier to make payments online – in fact, you just need a cell number. Says Viviers, “One Capitec client can pay another via online banking by simply inputting a verified cell phone number. No data is required to use the app with certain providers. Other seamless payment technologies include QKR! – an innovation collaboratively developed by Mastercard. This allows you to order and pay for food before you even arrive at the restaurant. Additionally, there’s Masterpass – the international equivalent to SnapScan, which works with the same QR scan mechanism.”

Security is getting smarter:

One concern around FinTech is the opportunity for phishing and fraud. Capitec Bank was the first in South Africa to implement biometric fingerprint security and then to take this a step further, by verifying people’s data against Home Affairs’ biometric records. Gone are the days when people need to carry around documentation – now all that’s required is a fingerprint. The Capitec app is additionally safe from sim swap fraud due to it being linked to the device as opposed to a sim card.

It’s a time of tremendous opportunity:

Particularly for developers and data analysts, with a global shortage in these capabilities. Capitec Bank provides an incubator for top developer talent through its graduate programme and growing digital department of +120 people. “Working with RocketSpace and the MasterCard StartPath, our team will frequently go overseas this year in order to assess and potentially partner with emerging FinTech companies that offer the capabilities we know our clients need.”

Integration with FinTech leaders is becoming an obvious solution for banks looking to remain relevant and become increasingly Big Data-driven and consumer-focused. Many see the biggest advantage of FinTech being frictionless transactions, along with improved accessibility and speed.

Says Viviers, “While South Africa is often negatively perceived to be falling victim to the much-feared digital divide, innovators such as Capitec Bank clearly show that we’re using revolutionary FinTech as a smart solution to make banking simpler, more transparent and affordable. The next financial chapter is set to be an exciting one indeed.”

Quick Polls


The FSB is thinking of scrapping Level II Regulatory Exam (which would have tested product knowledge) in favour of an approach that forces insurers to train staff and monitor their actions. Do you agree with this approach?


Yes. The Level II Regulatory Exams were a massive headache for those who had to write them
No. At least with the exams you knew who were the top achievers. A lot of trust now needs to be given to insurers.
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