In brief

In brief

  • This report looks at the value that digital can create within the retail banking and insurance sectors, and society at large.
  • Financial institutions have the opportunity to extend beyond traditional value chains and ecosystems unlocking new revenue streams.
  • We identify six digital opportunities that have the potential to shape the future of the financial services industry.

Digital is disrupting and redefining industries, and financial services is no exception. In South Africa, Accenture (NYSE: ACN) research indicates that implementation of key digital initiatives across the retail banking and insurance sectors can unlock R1.2 trillion in value for business and society by 2026.

“Changing customer expectations, new entrants, cross-industry convergence and new regulation are among the many factors catapulting financial institutions into new areas. To remain relevant, these organisations need to play a more meaningful role in their customers’ lives, improving financial well-being but also meeting broader day-to-day needs,” notes Neil Asherson of Accenture Strategy.

Our research indicates that digital transformation can drive agility and competitiveness, unlocking R1.2 trillion in value—not just for industry but for society.

Accenture’s research leverages a value-at-stake framework co-developed with the World Economic Forum (WEF). It estimates that the adoption of digital technologies can unlock R1.2 trillion in value for the South African retail banking and insurance sectors, their customers and society between now and 2026. To capture this value, Accenture has identified six digitally driven opportunities. Realising the value will, however, require a collaborative effort from all stakeholders.

How digital adds value

South Africa has a strong, well established financial services sector. However, it has been slow to leverage the power of digital. Disruption has necessitated innovation by incumbents, but these innovations have been incremental at best; they have not fundamentally transformed business models or the industry, or delivered exponential value to institutions, society or consumers.

Retail banks and insurers are not leveraging the potential of digital to improve financial outcomes for customers. There is low market inclusiveness in real terms. There are high levels of cash usage. Service costs remain high, with banks sporting operating margins that exceeded levels seen in many developed nations. And fintech growth and investment remains low.

Unlocking digital value in the South African banking and insurance sector

For financial institutions, digital creates opportunities to extend beyond traditional value chains and ecosystems to unlock new revenue streams. Advances in architectures and infrastructure can reset the cost base, dramatically increase agility and reduce time-to-market for new products and services.

New technologies such as artificial intelligence, real-time analytics, blockchain and peer-to-peer business models will drive democratisation of, and access, to financial services. This will create a foundation for the development of products and services designed to truly improve financial behaviour, at a fraction of the cost.

Ultimately, society as whole stands to benefit as the industry evolves from a product-centric to an experience- and service-driven model that is focussed on improving financial outcomes for South Africans.

New entrants, increased partnering and cross-industry convergence, coupled with new regulation, is catapulting financial institutions into new areas.

Six digital opportunities for financial services

Our research indicates that six digital opportunities will be critical to unlock the value at stake for the industry, society and consumers. These include creating platform businesses that enable multiple stakeholders to collaboratively create an ecosystem in which customers can choose the combination of products and services that suit them; leveraging digital channels that combine the best of human and artificial intelligence to improve speed, lower cost and increase personalisation; and introducing cashless solutions that offer a clear value proposition for all. Unlocking Digital Value in South Africa’s Retail Banking and Insurance Sector.


The Accenture and WEF value-at-stake framework assesses the impact of digital initiatives (from driverless cars and predictive analytics to drones and remote healthcare) on industries, consumers, society and the environment over the decade to 2026. In the assessment of industries, the framework integrates all segments of an industry's value chain, capturing approximately 80 percent of revenues and profits. It considers the total addressable market and the adoption or penetration rates of new technologies over time, and is based on research, industry reports, existing use cases and expert interviews. The framework also quantifies Digital Value to Society by aggregating the key performance indicators that measure the impact of digitalisation on health and safety, employment, the environment, labour and consumers. Additional Accenture research, based on expert interviews, local statistics and other inputs, quantifies the value at stake in South Africa and identifies the key digital technologies and initiatives across industry sectors and government services that can unlock that value.

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