IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Financial services for the urban poor : South Africa's E Plan

Listed author(s):
  • Paulson, Jo Ann
  • McAndrews, James

Much of the research on financial services in low-income countries has focused on micro-credit programs. Much less attention has been paid to the design of depository services, although many more low-income people use depository services than get access to credit. Having access to depository services is important for household well-being: to safeguard funds, to save for large purchases, and as insurance against unexpected expenditures. Economic reform programs in recent years have encouraged banks to push up nominal interest rates to keep deposit rates positive in real terms, and to motivate savings in financial assets. But once deposit rates are positive in real terms, banks typically increase minimum deposit size or find other ways to discourage small depositors because of the high costs of maintaining and servicing low-balance accounts. Traditional passbook savings accounts, the main product used by low-income households, are being phased out because of high costs. After South Africa's move to democracy in 1994, it was politically imperative that the country's major financial institutions help redress the historically weak system of services for low-income people. The authors describe one of the more interesting experiments. In 1993 Standard Bank of South Africa created an affiliate, called E Bank, to deliver basic banking services to the urban poor. E Bank provides a package of financial services designed specifically for low-income clients, offering greater convenience for the user while keeping under control the costs to the bank of providing services. E Bank combines the innovative technology of modified ATM services with staff available to help all clients. By rethinking the needs of the basic banking customer, E Bank was able to bundle services valued by poorer clients to justify a fee high enough to cover costs.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2016.

in new window

Date of creation: 30 Nov 1998
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2016
Contact details of provider: Postal:
1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433

Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2016. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.