The biggest lender in Africa, with a 160-year history on the continent and a presence in 20 countries, has the advantage of scale over its peers as it looks to grow its customer base to more than 25 million. But persuading the most affluent patrons to leave rival banks will be a hard-fought contest.
“At the apex of the pyramid, clearly you are going to be in mortal combat with your competitor,” Chief Executive Officer Sim Tshabalala said in an interview. “As you go further down, it’s going to be about bringing many new entrants into the system.”
The competition among banks and multinational firms venturing into financial services in Africa is heating up. In a measure of the challenge facing Standard Bank, a report this year found that 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 U.K. citizens.