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Sasfin rolls out SA’s first dedicated SME banking platform

Banking group aims to meet needs of SMEs ‘neglected’ by larger competitors.

Sasfin is the first listed financial services group to launch an innovative digital banking platform tailored to needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Through B\\YOND for Business, the group aims to fulfill the banking needs of its own SME clients as well as those of businesses “neglected” by their larger competitors.

“The bigger banks are quite good at dealing with run of the mill small clients – where everything is completely automated – or with very large corporates. They struggle to deal with businesses that have got nuance[s] and small businesses have got nuance[s]. Those businesses get stuck in a branch or get stuck in a retail banking platform. We are really focused on that segment of the market, that we think has been neglected for too long in South Africa,” said Michael Sassoon, chief executive of Sasfin. 

B\\YOND for Business is said to be the first South African digital banking platform through which companies can create and submit account applications for multiple stakeholders without any of the stakeholders having to set foot in a branch.

The internet banking platform also offers basic analytics functionalities to aid SMEs with cash management, as well as Sars-compliant payroll management services and personalised invoicing capabilities.

Sasfin has integrated digital investment solutions offered by SIPP, which it recently bought for an undisclosed amount, directly into the banking platform.

It also offers direct-feed integration into Xero Accounting Software – another South African first – through which clients will be able to securely reconcile transactional banking data with their company’s books. Sassoon said the bank’s partnership with both Xero and non-Xero-affiliated accounts would provide it with opportunities to acquire more banking clients.

The banking group has also partnered with small business financier Payabill, to enhance its digital offering.

In line with the group’s ‘beyond a bank’ vision, Sassoon said it would be open to partnering with other companies to further develop its platform. Sasfin is focusing on providing entrepreneurs with the tools to effectively and efficiently run their businesses rather than on ‘owning clients’, he said.   

Sassoon would not say how much Sasfin has invested in the platform. The platform falls under Sasfin’s banking unit, which generated R373.28 million in revenue during the six months ended December 31 2017.  Profit attributable to the unit more than halved, falling to R35.67 million from R82.28 million reported during the prior corresponding period.

Read: Sasfin reviews credit policies after fraud-related loss

Sasfin’s interim financial performance was affected by a single credit loss of between R30 million to R40 million as result of fraud committed by a trade finance client. Moneyweb previously reported that the banking group aims to recover some of the losses and that it is reviewing its credit processes and policies.

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