Banking Summit 2019 – Cas Coovadia

Publication Date: 13/09/2019

Welcome by BASA MD, Mr Cas Coovadia, to the 2019 Banking Summit
13 September 2019

Minister Tito Mboweni;
Deputy Minister, David Masondo;
Chair of the BASA Board, Mike Brown;
Board members, colleagues from the banking sector, guests from the various government departments and regulatory authorities, BASA staff, the media, ladies and gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you to the 2019 Banking Summit under the theme Financial Technology: dilemmas and opportunities for banks.
We began thinking about the theme for this year’s summit immediately after the last summit was held in September 2018.
At the time the Strategy and Communications department, in their review of last year’s Summit, suggested, and I want to quote:
2019 will have its own share of challenges, which the sector will need to tackle with the inauguration of a new President and cabinet. We therefore recommend the topic for the 2019 Banking Summit to be along the lines “The Economy, Social Cohesion and the Banking Sector”.
The programme before you addresses, in our view, the two critical areas of concern to our sector and country viz economic growth and financial inclusion.
We are privileged to have the Minister of Finance addressing us on the theme of economic growth, including current inhibitors and prospects for the next few years. Minister, we have been fortunate to have interacted with you during your ten-year tenure at the helm of the Reserve Bank. During this period, we had robust interactions that contributed to the stability of SA’s financial system during what was termed as the Global Financial Crisis, although we did not experience a FINANCIAL crisis in SA.
We are glad to have you at our Summit so soon after you released the consultative document on economic strategies. Your department has asked for comments to be forwarded to National Treasury. BASA is busy finalising its response. I am glad that you have agreed to take a few questions after your speech, before you rush off to your next engagement.
The second theme of the Summit, which will be framed by the one on the economy, is about digitalisation and financial inclusion. This speaks directly to the issue of social cohesion, which we had identified last year, and which continues challenging our country today.
As a sector, we cannot thrive if South Africans are not thriving. Experiences of many successful countries have shown us that if we do not have social cohesion, we cannot be a successful country. Our understanding of social cohesion is where all our leaders – be they trade unionists, business men and women, politicians, bureaucrats – make the hard choices, trade-offs and compromises necessary for the greater project of SA Inc.
There is no doubt that a sense of anger is contributing to the levels of xenophobic and gender-based violence we have seen. This is due to grinding poverty, marginalisation from the economy due to widespread unemployment, itself creating a sense of emasculation, and alienation from political processes. However, there can be no excusing wanton killings, attacks and acts of destruction. Criminal acts must be treated as such!
Many of us, especially South African men, were hanging our head in shame because of the attacks on our fellow human beings, our fellow Africans, fellow South Africans, and women and children in particular.
The banking sector can’t be expected to solve all the problems of our society. But we are can certainly play a role in society, as we do! Our contribution must be through us doing our core business well and in an ethical and transparent manner ,keeping the needs of customers top of mind.
The sector also works with government to bring the infrastructure at its disposal to bear on issues of national interest. This includes working with SASSA on delivering social grants through bank accounts, to delivering pay-outs to ex-mineworkers who are benefitting from recent settlements of class actions.
Our discussion on financial inclusion, led by an incredible group of panellists, must help us understand how we can contribute to such social cohesion through developments in technology.
The banking sector is a critical element of our economy and is held in high regard globally. We recognise the impact of the sector on stakeholders from corporates, to government to worker and individuals. We are thus committed to working with stakeholders, particularly government, to do our bit in addressing the very real and serious socio-economic problems we face today.
I now hand proceedings over to Nozipho Mbanjwa, who will be the programme director for the rest of the programme. She is a presenter at CNBC and is an acclaimed moderator who facilitates discussions for UN agencies, the World Bank and IMF, and was doing us proud at the Africa WEF in Cape Town last week.
Enjoy the proceedings!