Two years after the Wells Fargo cross-selling scandal gave the bank's reputation a beating, what has changed at one of America's favourite banks? "Despite huge fines, a congressional mauling and public apologies, employees at the 166-year-old bank claim little has changed. "It doesn't feel like they've changed much of anything, to be honest," Meggan Halvorson, a Wells Fargo private mortgage employee for six years, told the Guardian. "Things put in place don't seem to be doing much of anything and we still hear complaints from customers." It's often reported that changing the culture of an organisation is not easy, and is time-consuming. But Halvorson says there's no real respect for people's work-life balance at the company. "The overwhelming thing you hear from management is: 'Just be thankful you have a job.'"
So much for changing bank behaviour. But we have regulators for the purpose of reigning in excess. Has the behaviour of regulators changed in the UK? The Financial Times reports today that the FCA appears to be taking a robust approach to an investigation of corporate culture at Royal Bank of Canada, following allegations that whistleblowers were dismissed or disregarded. "The UK's City watchdog has begun a full-blown investigation into the working culture at Royal Bank of Canada in London after dozens of former employees complained over their treatment, several people familiar with the matter told the Financial Times." Comments below the article suggest that disenchanted City workers are practically queueing up to speak to any regulator willing to listen. RBC received a rating of two stars in our 2018 bank quality benchmarking report. The maximum score is five stars.
The Kenyan Central Bank has approved the new loan offering by Safaricom's M-Pesa, which will allow Kenyans to tap a lending facility provided by CBA Bank. The scheme, which was announced in November, will offer short-term loans of up to 90 days. The "facility fee", in reality an interest rate, is set at 0.5 percent daily. Demand for the service is expected to be significant: Michael Kimani at kionecki.com calls it "a credit card on the phone". "According to the Safaricom, 58% of all daily M-Pesa transactions fail due to insufficient funds," reports Techweez. "Fuliza's aim is to solve this issue. The overdraft facility will only apply to Lipa na M-Pesa transactions, ie, PayBill and Buy Goods." The loans will not be available in cash. CBA is already the major partner of Safaricom, providing popular short-term emergency loans through M-Pesa.
Nigerian bank Keystone announced this week that its app would be available to users with no data requirements. However, it's worth remembering — as pointed out frequently by Niti Bhan — that most subscribers to mobile services in Africa are pre-paid — and that the prepaid and overlapping informal economies are in fact the dominant economic modes. As such, paying attention to the growth of sub-$50 smartphones and the search for the most efficient data services is full-time work. A recent study showed that Whatsapp uses the least data of over-the-top messaging services, and we've highlighted the success of Whatsapp as a banking tool in Africa and India. Keep eyes on this space.
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