Access Bank South Africa launches, claiming it’s a ‘big bank with a small bank mentality’

Access Bank CEO Herbert Wigwe says the bank intends to unlock a gateway to southern Africa.

Access Bank South Africa was officially launched on 14 June. The new bank was formed when Nigeria-based Access Bank acquired a majority equity stake in Grobank.

Access Bank is a full-service commercial bank operating in 12 countries on three continents. The newly launched Access Bank South Africa will focus on a number of other industries over and above the food value chain, which was a key sector for Grobank.

At the virtual launch, Access Bank CEO Herbert Wigwe (pictured) said that the SADC region represents the strongest economy on the African continent.

“This means Access Bank SA is firmly seated in one of the principal geographical areas apart from Nigeria, in terms of the size of the economy, and unlocks the gateway to the entire Southern African region.”

Bennie van Rooy, CEO of Access Bank SA, said that the launch was “an exciting event for the South African banking industry”.

“As part of the robust Access Bank family, the South African operations look forward to contributing meaningfully to the achievements and ambitions of the group. In offering a full suite of financial service products to a market we understand in depth, Access Bank SA is delighted to grow the family footprint,” he said.

When asked how the bank intended to break into the South African market, which is already well serviced by five leading banks, Wigwe said, “The difference is ‘how’. The relationship management that Grobank had was very rare – it’s almost impossible to find in large markets. But that’s how we [Access Bank] look at ourselves. We say we’re a big bank with a small bank mentality. To us, every single customer matters. The bank with the biggest balance sheet in the market is irrelevant to the customer. Every customer cares only about how they are being served.”

At the official closing ceremony of Grobank in May, Van Rooy said, “Our corporate customers will now have increased access to trade finance, treasury, international payments and loans through the wider distribution network offered by Access Bank’s presence in the key trade corridors that connect Africa to the rest of the world. Banking with Access Bank South Africa means greater security as well as access to more products and services through a best-in-class digital platform, and a full retail banking suite will soon be on offer.”

In closing the launch, Wigwe said, “We look forward to the opportunities that present themselves with opening doors for individuals and businesses, and growing possibilities as we go.”