At a time when SA’s big banks are under fire from the Competition Commission for alleged foreign exchange collusion and under attack from populists for being monopoly capitalists, it cannot harm the sector to open up to three new banks. And even if the new entrants do not present any immediate threat to the dominance of the big five, the competition and digital disruption they are likely to bring can only be good for banking in SA. The award of licences to TymeDigital and Discovery over the past month is a milestone for the sector. Though the banking regulator relicensed African Bank when the "good bank" emerged from curatorship in 2016, the last time the regulator gave the green light to a new bank was in the early 2000s. When the minimum capital requirement for a new bank licence was raised from R50m to R250m in 2002, in the wake of SA’s small banks crisis, it had a chilling effect on applications, as was the intention.In today’s money, the sum is hardly enormous and with informat...

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