If the problem with the existing banking system is insufficient access to finance — for black people in general and small businesses in particular – a state-owned bank, at least one that wants to be sustainable, will not solve it. It is also unlikely to be solved by a black-owned bank. The business model of a bank, and the rules that regulate that model, limit the extent to which banks can take on risk. Banks are, after all, custodians of the savings of ordinary people – a role that none of us would have them take lightly. The money they lend to borrowers, whether to buy a house or start a small business, belongs to their depositors. As the VBS debacle indicates, when banks do not manage the relationship between their assets (loans) and liabilities (deposits), ordinary people suffer. In this case, the 22,700 low-income individuals who deposited, on average, R38,000 with VBS. This is money they cannot access, although the Reserve Bank is guaranteeing it.As deputy governor of the Rese...

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