Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Dr Siyabonga Cwele. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA
Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Dr Siyabonga Cwele. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA

The South African Reserve Bank is still busy adjudicating on the actual banking licence application for the South African Post Office’s Postbank, according to Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele.

He said Postbank did not currently have a banking licence and had been exempted from the provisions of the Banks Act which was required for a bank to accept deposits.

Establishing the bank is one aspect of a multipronged strategy to modernise the Post Office and put it on a profitable and sustainable path in the face of the growth in digital communication. Post Office CE Mark Barnes wants Postbank to be the agency chosen by the Social Security Agency of SA to pay social grants. He said the Post Office was uniquely positioned to assume this task because it had 2,400 points of presence throughout the country.

In a written response to a question in Parliament from the EFF, Cwele said the timeframe for the granting of the banking licence was determined by the Reserve Bank and there was no prescribed period in which to grant the licence.

Layers

"There are two layers to the banking licence application process and the applications for both layers have already been submitted to the [Reserve Bank by Postbank] …

"The first layer entailed the lodgement of the application with the [Reserve Bank] for authorisation to establish the bank as required in terms of section 12 of the Banks Act on September 5 2013.

"The authorisation was granted to [the Post Office] on July 4 2016 wherein Postbank was given a maximum [period] of 12 months to comply with the set conditions before it could accordingly submit an application for the banking licence," said the minister.

Conditions 

"The set conditions were duly met within the set timelines. The actual application to register Postbank as a bank was then lodged with the [Reserve Bank] on June 26 2017 (ahead of the July 3 2017 deadline) in terms of section 16 of the Banks Act."

He said the appointment of the initial board enabled the incorporation of the Postbank Company with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission on April 19 2017.

In February, the Treasury said it wanted to speed up the corporatisation of the Postbank as part of the government’s 14 confidence-boosting measures.

The Treasury said the Post Office would meet the Reserve Bank’s requirements for the Postbank licence and conclude the transition into a commercial bank by March 2019.

ANC committee on communications head Jackson Mthembu said recently that significant progress to license Postbank as a fully-fledged state bank had been made. He called on the government to "move with speed" to ensure that Postbank would be first choice for the government and the primary platform for government and citizens’ transactions.