It would be a great tragedy if South Africans wrote off mutual banks because of the VBS Mutual Bank debacle. They could play a valuable role in the country’s financial services sector. Fortunately, the Reserve Bank believes they are worth ‘keeping, which is why it is planning a long overdue update of the Mutual Banks Act. Still, one can’t help but worry that the VBS disaster, which this week ended in the bank’s liquidation, has tainted the public’s view of mutual banks — even though the VBS demise had nothing to do with it being a mutual bank and everything to do with fraud. While the regulatory update is unlinked to VBS, where bank executives and their pals stole almost R2bn belonging to depositors, it could bolster a type of banking that should have a bright future in SA’s financial services landscape. It is high time we move past the idea that banks need to look like the “big four” and be all things to all people. Capitec Bank helped break the mould in exclusively serving retail ...

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