Standard Bank Group last week launched its first branch dedicated to service the Chinese business community in Africa.
Speaking at the launch, Chinese Consul General in Johannesburg Ruan Ping said the bank’s “first Mandarin Banking Branch in South Africa” bears witness to the vital role the private sector plays towards strengthening China-South Africa relations.
George Lo, Executive Head of Africa China Banking at Standard Bank, said establishing the branch is part of the bank’s strategy in recognizing the commercial value of Chinese doing business in South Africa and Africa at large, and facilitating regional trade.
The full-service dedicated branch was opened at an event at Crown Mines in Johannesburg.
The move unlocks future business and trade potential between the continent and the world’s second largest economy, Lo said.
“This is another step in the bank’s ongoing commitment to deepen and grow the Africa-China investment and trade corridor. We chose this area, because it’s where many entrepreneurs and businessmen from neighbouring countries obtain their supplies from Chinese wholesalers,” he added.
“This model is not just about servicing the Chinese, but, importantly, also Africans looking to trade with China. We expect this to be the first of many opportunities to come,” Lo said.
The branch will have staff fluent in both Chinese and English who can service the Chinese customers and everyone else. Standard already has over 100 Chinese-speaking relationship managers, bankers and advisors, including Chinese-speaking traders on the bank’s trading floors, Sibongiseni Ngundze, Executive Head, Retail and Business Banking at Standard Bank said.
The Crown Mines area has become a regional trade hub for neighbouring countries, with several Chinese markets being established.
The Standard Bank Group has a strong footprint across 20 African countries, and the Crown Mines branch opening follows the successful launch of the world’s first dedicated Africa-China Banking Centre at its Simmonds Street offices in Johannesburg in June last year.
“The development of dedicated branches for Chinese clients in South Africa is one of the tangible practical transactional platforms that cements this relationship. We are actively expanding and will continue to invest across these exciting markets,” Lo said.