Financial Inclusion

First National Bank Of South Africa Sets Up Business In Shipping Container

Shipping containers are large enough to be more than a means to get products from Point A to Point B. It turns out they can also be retrofitted to serve as banks. That’s what First National Bank of South Africa is doing. According to a report, to reach customers in rural areas, it will open its first branch inside an overhauled shipping container.

According to a report, the banking branch will be fully equipped, which means customers will be able to access teller services, ATMs and will be able to deposit checks, open savings and checking accounts and even apply for loans.

“South Africa still has a large section of the population that has limited access to banking facilities, and we want to turn this around,” said Lee-Ann van Zyl, chief executive of First National Bank of South Africa, in a report. “The first step for us was to think about an innovative way of delivering a full suite of banking facilities to rural communities in a convenient fashion.”

The buildout of the bank in a shipping container took the company three months to create and cost a fraction of what it would be to open a full retail bank, including cooling it.

First National Bank of South Africa isn’t the first bank to open pop-up locations as a way to curb costs, nor is it the only financial services company that is going after the unbanked population. Earlier this year, Fifth Third Bank announced it is launching Express Banking, which is geared toward people in the U.S. who are either unbanked or underbanked. Fifth Third said as many as one in four households in the U.S. falls into that category. Some of the features included in its offering are no monthly fees, no minimum deposit and optional debit cards that enable unlimited use at the bank’s ATMs.



The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.

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