Load shedding is tripping up banking – FNB CEO

"It's tough." FNB CEO Jacques Celliers makes no bones about the impact of load shedding on the ability to deliver banking services.

The CEO spoke to Fin24 on the sidelines of an event marking the bank's 180th founding celebration at the bank's offices in Cape Town on Monday.

From flamingo feathers to fintech

The bank has transformed from its earliest days in 1838 when it stored flamingo feathers and wool for safekeeping, to the innovative fintech giant with its sight set on autonomous vehicles and drone delivery in the next few years.

When asked how load shedding impacts the bank's business, given its strong digitisation strategy, Celliers is frank in his response. "For innovative trusted banking platforms to survive and to be able to operate we need trusted infrastructure," he tells Fin24. This includes telecommunications infrastructure and energy infrastructure.

"Without those things, it's hard to deliver services."

Even though load shedding does not create an "ideal environment" in which to operate, Celliers said that the bank has to have contingency plans in place or  "plan B, plan C and plan D," as he phrased it.

"We are very well positioned to accommodate and absorb the unfortunate consequences of load shedding," he assured.

'Big responsibility'

Commenting on the impact of load shedding on the SA economy overall, Celliers said that it was disappointing.

"Every day of load shedding takes so much momentum out of an economy that is struggling to keep its head above water."

For this reason load shedding must be addressed to not only keep the banking system functional but to keep the SA economy thriving, he explained.

"It’s a big responsibility for everyone to keep the lights on," he added.

Previously at a briefing on the status of the electricity system, Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan said that Eskom would at most implement Stage 1 load shedding over the winter months.