Pricing of interest rates and fees may not be the primary driver of differentiation in Africa, but customers certainly expect to get value for the money they pay their banks. While customers report slightly higher levels of satisfaction with bank charges and fees than they did in the past, our survey shows that a significant proportion of banking customers continue to harbor deep dissatisfaction with the fees and charges they pay.
Customers and social activists are clearly concerned about high bank fees and interest rates. “No Banking Day” in Nigeria in early 2016 may not have disrupted banking operations, but it certainly influenced the perception that customers may not be getting value from their banks. Similar actions have catalyzed regulatory and policy change in other markets. For example, in Zimbabwe, public pressure has pushed the Central Bank to negotiate lending rate caps with the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe. Nigeria’s banks recently completed a regulated process of phasing out their Commission on Transaction (COT) charges. In South Africa, protests by the Economic Freedom Fighters and loud complaints about ATM charges by local customers has led to a recommendation that all ATM fees must be clearly stated and agreed upon for each transaction at the terminal.
While value for money may draw significant attention from politicians, social activists and regulators, our survey suggests that Africa’s banking customers are not as concerned about pricing when selecting their banks. In fact, just 7.5 percent of our respondents across Africa said that pricing was their biggest consideration when deciding whether to maintain their existing banking relationship.
This does not mean that Africa’s banks can set their costs or rates with impunity. Almost four-fifths of our respondents said that the cost of maintaining their account was a highly important factor when assessing customer satisfaction. Across Africa, only around 60 percent of customers voiced any level of satisfaction with the cost of maintaining their accounts, suggesting that many of Africa’s banks could be addressing customer satisfaction concerns through improved customer segmentation and pricing strategies.
Customers reported higher concerns about the interest rates they receive on deposits and investment products. Eighty-one percent said rates were highly important to their level of customer satisfaction, yet just 58 percent voiced satisfaction with the rates they receive. Customers in Zimbabwe, Senegal and Sierra Leone returned the highest levels of dissatisfaction with the rates they receive on deposits and investment products.