REALITY CHECK | Why African Customers Are Moving Away From Traditional Banking

Below we've highlighted the top 3 challenges reported by Africans about their banks.

Banks and banking services were initially established to facilitate financial transactions and safeguard valuable assets.

In Ghana, for instance, the idea of banking has progressively gained traction witnessing a significant surge in the ownership of bank accounts since 2013. By 2023 39% of Ghana’s populace held accounts with financial institutions.

Share of population with an account at a financial institution in Ghana from 2018 to 2023

Ghana’s rate is 10 points below the African average where 49 percent of adults own an account, a rate that has more than doubled since 2011. In 16 of the 36 economies surveyed by the World Bank in 2021-2022, well over 50 percent of adults have an account. They include:

  • Kenya (79 percent)
  • Senegal (56 percent), and
  • South Africa (85 percent)

Nevertheless, despite this expansion, customers of traditional banks have voiced dissatisfaction with the existing banking system, especially given the rise of alternative banking means.

Common grievances include:

  • Exorbitant maintenance fees
  • Prolonged wait times in banking facilities
  • Cumbersome procedures when applying for overdrafts or loans

Some individuals opt against depositing their funds in banks due to fears regarding bank stability, particularly following the restructuring of the banking sector in Ghana from mid-2017 to January 2020. This overhaul led to a decrease in the number of banks from 34 to 23 and the revocation of licenses from 347 microfinance institutions, 15 savings and loans, and 8 finance houses.


Below we’ve highlighted the top 3 challenges reported by Africans about their banks:


  • Poor Customer Service

Customers have discontent with their bank’s customer service, pinpointing problems like unresponsiveness and delayed response intervals. Additionally, customers have noted a dearth of prompt communication and updates from their banks, contributing to a perception of a lack of transparency.

Moreover, there was frustration over customer service teams perceived to lack sufficient knowledge and competence.

It is estimated that banks lose 20% of clients due to poor customer experences. In addition, 12% of global banking leaders say they have lost 30-40% of their existing customers for failing to adopt a customer-centric approach at the front end of operations.


  • Excessive Costs of Banking Services

A major pain point among African customers is around the steep charges and fees linked with bank services, including transaction fees and account maintenance charges. This dissatisfaction was notably heightened by recent increases in monthly service charges, which were viewed unfavourably against the backdrop of challenging economic conditions.

According to a recent 2024 African survey, concerns have been growing over time that high fee charges from banks and other financial institutions were discouraging the general public and entities from keeping their money in banks. The report advised agains the currenging revenue of banks largely coming from fees levided on various services. It is not ideal for a bank to derive more revenue and profit from fee income than interest income, as this can indicate heavy reliance on fees that may not be sustainable in the long term.


  • Unreliable Methodologies

Customers have reported encountering challenges even in minor tasks, like resetting bank app passwords, which often required visits to over-crowded banking halls. These experiences were exacerbated by glitchy bank apps, frequent service downtimes, and lingering pending transactions.

Furthermore, users highlighted that transferring funds to other banks and mobile wallets via these apps was more cumbersome compared to non-bank payment alternatives, further adding to their frustration.


The dissatisfaction with traditional banks has led to calls for broader services from financial institutions. These changing expectations include insurance, online lending, investment advice, and financial management. As a result, some banks are adjusting by offering services beyond traditional banking. The rise of neobanks and fintech apps is a clear indication of this transformative trend as they offer extensive financial services and a wide range of digital solutions. This shift caters to the increasing demands of customers looking for improved and diverse financial options.

Neobanks and digital financial apps present a remedy to the hurdles encountered with traditional banks. They provide convenient access to funds without requiring visits to physical banking locations or ATM usage. In an ever-changing financial environment, these digital platforms have demonstrated their efficacy not only in facilitating fund transfers and payments but also as dependable stores of value.




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