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FNB stands firm on the need for branches

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FNB CEO Jacques Celliers.
FNB CEO Jacques Celliers.

First National Bank (FNB) intends to open an additional 50 new community branches by 2023, the financial services provider announced.

Amid customers’ switch to more digital banking services, some FNB competitors have opted to close some of their branches. However, the self-proclaimed ‘digital first’ bank has taken a strong stance against shutting branch outlets.

Rather, CEO Jacques Celliers previously stated that FNB is on a journey to modernise points-of-presence infrastructure, which includes campuses, branches, suites and ATMs, all the way to the bank’s speed-point terminals.

Announcing plans for its new community branches, FNB says these will integrate “world-class” technologies to heighten customer experience by blending self-service and face-to-face interactions.

The bank further notes the 70-90 square metre community branches are part of efforts to be accessible to its retail and commercial customers across the country.

Says Celliers: “In the last three years, we’ve opened 14 new branches and revamped over 130 to cater to customer needs via assisted and unassisted channels. In our points of presence, our aim is to ensure the right services are available within proximity to our customers. As a result, we have maintained consistent investment in our vast network spanning nearly 600 branches and approximately 5 000 ATMs in local markets across South Africa.”

Lee-Anne van Zyl, CEO of FNB Points of Presence, adds: “Our branches and ATMs serve a meaningful purpose to our customers, communities and brand. We strive to provide reliable, accessible and contextual services to help our customers manage their money. The introduction of new branches will be supported by ongoing refurbishments, with a further 53 branches scheduled for upgrades in the short- to medium-term.”

The bank also notes the branch network plays an important role in the provision of services beyond banking, namely the roll out of smart IDs and passports.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) introduced the service in 2016, when it launched eHomeAffairs, allowing citizens to skip the long queues at home affairs branches by making applications online.

FNB – alongside other banking outlets Absa, Nedbank and Standard Bank – is part of an industry partnership to help the DHA with the distribution of smart IDs and passports at selected branches.

The bank says since inception of the initiative, over 267 800 smart ID cards and passports have been issued to customers in partnership with the DHA. “Customers in provinces where the service is available can apply via the online system of the Department of Home Affairs to collect their smart IDs and passports at a participating FNB branch.”

Across the country, smart IDs can be collected at FNB branches at Portside (Cape Town), Centurion Lifestyle (Pretoria), Merchant Place (Sandton, Johannesburg), Lynnwood (Pretoria), Burgersfort (Limpopo), The Glen (Johannesburg) and Cornubia (KwaZulu-Natal).

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