An evaluation of the regulation and supervision of co-operative financial institutions in South Africa
Thesis (MDF)--Stellenbosch University, 2011.
Co-operative financial institutions (CFIs) as a concept has been in existence in South Africa for a number of years either as credit unions, “stokvels”, savings and credit co-operatives and/or FSC‟s. As a result, regulators have long realized the need and potential of the CFI concept, with an exemption notice promulgated in 1994 and the Co-operative Bank specific legislation in 2007, allowing institutions modeled around a common bond to take deposits within certain conditions, to ensure the safety and soundness of such institutions and to facilitate financial inclusion. The study provides an overview of the regulatory and supervisory frameworks for CFIs in South Africa, noting the roles of various regulatory stakeholders as well as the perceptions of the regulated institutions. The study finds that despite the small size relative to the overall economy, and the low penetration rates, the CFI sector in South Africa is providing financial services to marginalized communities. However, capacity is a major constraint in the development and growth of the sector. As a result, any supervisory interventions will be pointless in the absence of appropriate capacity interventions. Despite the existence of various regulators, regulatory and supervisory oversight is considered weak. There is lack of clarity on the various roles of the different regulators within the sector, raising scope for regulatory arbitrage. In addition, the role of the representative body has been called into question, with some CFIs querying its relevance. Regulations have been put in place to address some of these anomalies, and these were evaluated in the context of recommending appropriate supervisory frameworks to enhance the safety and soundness of the sector and minimize regulatory arbitrage. The recommendations are also aligned to the nature and size of such institutions within the broader national strategy of promoting access to financial services in a safe and sound manner.