Standard Chartered has acquired South Africa's only standalone Internet banking operation 20Twenty for less than $10 million, and plans to extend its presence into the physical world by opening a branch in Johannesburg.
20Twenty has been run by liquditors since the demise of parent company Saambou, which spent R100 million on developing the channel. The Internet operation had gained 40,000 customers within six months of inception in July 2001 and was expected to break even in three years.
While 20Twenty lost just six per cent of its customers after the failure of Saambou, only 30% of the remaining accounts are currently active, says Christo Davel, the former chief executive of 20twenty and Standard Chartered's new head of consumer banking.
Standard Chartered plans to relaunch 20Twenty in the first quarter of next year and has acquired a branch banking license with a view to converting the stand-alone operation into a bricks'n'clicks business.