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For many years access to financial services characterised the divide in SA, with the affluent serviced by a technologically advanced banking sector and an innovative insurance sector. In LSM 1-5 (those earning less than R6,000/month) informal savings and investment vehicles such as stokvels and burial societies still dominate. Banks and insurers would love to get hold of the unknown billions held in informal providers: it is the pot of gold believed to be buried in lower-income areas. Thembisa Mapukata deals with these groups daily as the GM of the Old Mutual Foundation Market. She says informal channels will remain important as they are preferred choices of engagement by customers. "These still embrace communal values and are driven by trust based on values of ubuntu. Stokvels and funeral parlours are closer to their customers as they are family, village, town or regionally based. Stokvels often offer immediate money access, which is a key driver in the market." But Mapukata says f...

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