Ubank facing stiff competition to retain its mine workers’ customer base

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Ubank is facing stiff competition in a battle for the market share to bank mine workers. The South African Reserve Bank placed Ubank under curatorship in May to improve its weak corporate governance and lack of internal controls. But it appears the bank would have to come up with innovative ideas to challenge the growing competition and maintain its number of active accounts.

Ubank has closed down most of its branches across the country. And only a few are still in operation. The Ubank brand is synonymous with mining towns in South Africa. Faced with trouble, today other banks are also eyeing this market which present tough competition to Ubank. While the bank is faced with various challenges, mine workers express their frustrations about the bank.

“Right now Ubank has many problems that I know of is that of their cards. Once you lose your card it may take up top three months before you get a new one and also, their phone service such as the banking app is quite slow. So, I can say that it is not working for me as much as the other banks,” a mine worker says.

Ubank previously known as Teba Bank has been in existence since 1975. Mine workers say Ubank should look at improving its technology for ease of access. They say Ubank is convenient for payments but lacks in other services provided. These miners say the interest charged on loans is just too high.

“It was ok because when you work at this company it is convenient because it will open up an account for you even when you don’t have funds,” adds another mine worker.

“When I left it before was because it didn’t have apps but now I’ve heard that they do,” another mine worker says.

“I’ve used Ubank before but I left it because I’m from the Eastern Cape. You’ll find that in some towns back home there is no Ubank and you end up travelling long distances to get to a town that has one to withdraw money,” complains a mine worker.

Providing banking for miners has proven profitable for Ubank over the years. The bank boasts 4.7 million accounts, mainly among mine workers and their families. However, it’s not clear how many of these accounts are active.

And in May the Reserve Bank announced that it was aware of interested parties that have been discussing investing in Ubank. Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago told reporters that the money from the investments will resolve the issues at Ubank.