Mountains, vineyards, farmstalls - the scenery of the Cape winelands has a much closer association with postcards than debit cards. But on a hill near Stellenbosch a handful of construction cranes are working on a new head office for Capitec, the bank that has become a part of the landscape. With 11.4-million active banking clients, after expanding by an average of 128,000 clients a month for the past year, the R800m building is a sign of the growth Capitec has managed to generate in a stalling economy. "Our retail bank is still growing very strongly," said CEO Gerrie Fourie after the group's annual results presentation this week. The bank opened 14 new branches in the financial year to end-February, to bring the total to 840, and plans 25 more this year. Larger rival Standard Bank this month announced the closure of 91 of its 629 branches, most of them by the end of June, as fewer clients use bricks-and-mortar outlets for banking. Nedbank and First National Bank are also moving tow...

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