Bank loyalty takes almost three decades to break in SA

South Africans stick with their main bank for nearly three decades before switching, roughly double the time it takes Americans to move and 70% longer than UK citizens, according to a report by Discovery Bank.

Younger South Africans, though, were 20% more likely to shop around than the average customer, according to the digital bank, owned by the country’s largest health insurance administrator Discovery Ltd. The bank used anonymised data from the health business to assess how long customers stayed with their lender.


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“There are so many anecdotes of people saying they are still with the bank that was across the road from their first job,” Chief Executive Officer Hylton Kallner said in an interview. “While that branch might not exist any longer they are still with the bank because it was too much of a hassle to change.”

South Africans are gradually becoming more discerning as their options grow beyond the four big lenders that traditionally dominated the market. In 2015, the country’s Registrar of Banks received its first application for a new license in 11 years from TymeBank, a venture backed by billionaire Patrice Motsepe. Several digital challengers have since launched including Discovery, which now has more than 300 000 clients.

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