In this edition of Business Day Spotlight, we’re exploring what transaction data can tell us about the economy. 

Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Shergeran Naidoo, head of stakeholder engagement at BankservAfrica, the largest automated payments clearing house on the continent.

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Naidoo shares findings from two of the company’s most recent reports tracking transaction activity in SA. The company, released its monthly BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index (BETI) for June earlier this month. 

Naidoo says the BETI is a very fast and broad overview of current economic trends over a broad range of sectors, making use of economic transactions as captured by the organisation.

Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI
Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI

The BETI is considered a “now-cast” number given how quickly the data is released compared to other indicators that usually take months to be compiled. While most economic indicators can take anything between 38 and 76 days to go public, now-cast indicators take less than a month to come to market.

Naidoo says the results for June showed the biggest, one-month bounce-back on record, providing some hope of an economic recovery since the start of the lockdown. This is in line with the relaxing of lockdown restrictions since April.

He says the BETI results for April, May and June give an early indication that GDP in the second quarter of 2020 could have a very large contraction. The BETI is usually a good leading indicator of what GDP will look like for a particular period. 

Naidoo then takes us through the recent lockdown spend report that compares cash and card transactions. 

That study found that that the value of ATM withdrawals is on the rise while credit card use is declining. Given the World Health Organisation’s encouragement to use less physical cash, as it may be a point of contact for the spread of coronavirus, Naidoo says it’s curious that South Africans have turned to cash during this period. 

The discussion also explores how the different studies were conducted; buying and spending patterns online; and an economic outlook for the rest of the year. 

For more episodes, click here.

Engage on Twitter at #BDSpotlight or via e-mail at MullerP@arena.africa

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Business Day Spotlight is a MultimediaLIVE production.

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