Govt, FNB leg-up for entrepreneurs

19 August 2013

First National Bank (FNB) has partnered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) in a world-first initiative that enables South African entrepreneurs to register a new business and open a corporate bank account simultaneously, and practically instantaneously.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative in Johannesburg on Monday, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies described it as “a public-private partnership in the true sense of the term, where government and the bank partnered to offer its different products to their mutual customer through an integrated process.

“This FNB partnership is one of a number of initiatives that we are implementing to reduce red tape for SMMEs [small, medium and micro enterprises] and promote efficiencies for end-users,” Davies said.

The CIPC is a public agency reporting to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Entrepreneurs who wish to open a corporate bank account can now register their companies through FNB’s online facility at no additional charge than the CIPC’s prescribed fees.

“The process is instantaneous and will reduce red tape, improve service delivery … and will improve the integrity of the register, as well as reduce the turnaround time, which is dependent on the speed at which the entrepreneur provides the bank with its ‘know your customer’ documentation and payment for the service,” CIPC commissioner Astrid Ludin said in a statement.

The CIPC will rely on FNB to conduct identity verification and confirm residential information prior to registration of an enterprise, as required by the Companies Act and the Financial Intelligence Centre Act. As soon as this is done, applicants’ data will be sent to the CIPC for validation. Once the data is validated and the customer registered with the CIPC, payment will take place.

Entrepreneurs will be charged the exact fee of R125 for a company registration, excluding the name reservation, as outlined in the regulations of the Companies Act, and the process is practically instantaneous, with no need for mailing documents, standing in queues or waiting weeks for certificates.

According to FNB and the CIPC, the two have been collaborating for the past 18 months on developing innovative approaches like this “with the express aim of easing the administrative burden businesses are currently faced with.

“The automated approach to the account opening and registration is a world’s first.”

“SMMEs are important for our economy,” Sanjeev Orie, head of products for FNB Business Banking, said on Monday. “The vast majority of business owners, whether they are starting up a new company or expanding an existing one, need practical support, guidance and assistance in the administrative, compliance and day-to-day operational function of their companies.

“This innovative partnership is a first in South Africa and will benefit big and small businesses in many ways,” Orie said. “Business clients can now focus on their core functions instead of getting bogged down in time-consuming administrative and compliance responsibilities.”

SAinfo reporter