Solidarity finds FNB to be SA's cheapest bank

By Staff Writer
A restructuring in the South African banking market has started in all earnest with a special offer from FNB.

According to the offer announced to the Solidarity Movement, all South Africans who move their bank accounts via FNB's telephonic direct sales office to an FNB Gold Cheque Account on the unlimited option before 31 December will receive two months' free banking services.

In Solidarity's report on bank charges FNB emerged this week as the commercial bank that generally has the cheapest current account. Standard Bank and Absa are generally the most expensive. However, the FNB benefit is available to all South Africans, and not just to members of the Solidarity Movement.

FNB also announced special measures to make it as easy as possible for people to move their bank accounts. Prospective FNB clients can simply SMS the word "HELP" to 32812. FNB's direct sales centre will then call the person. The moving of the account will be done entirely by telephone and FNB will help move debit orders linked to the account. The call centre agent will make the move as smooth as possible and it will not even be necessary to visit a branch. Any further conditions for qualifying for the two months of free banking services will also be explained to the client telephonically.

"We trust that these steps by FNB will be the start of more competition in banking. South Africans believe that it is hard to move to another bank.

Consequently, there isn't enough competition in the banking environment. Less competition means higher prices. However, the FNB offer makes it easier for people to move between banks. We trust that other banks will come up with similar measures. The result will be lower prices for everyone in South Africa. The power to lower bank charges lies in the hands of the consumer.

South Africa needs more activism in the banking sector," said Dirk Hermann, deputy general secretary of Solidarity.

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