Processing 100k bank statements: A Window into South Africa


Data has emerged as a valuable commodity in the ever-evolving fintech sector, greatly coveted by both financial institutions and businesses. Its potential to improve decision-making and risk management drives this demand. In this swiftly changing fintech landscape, Finch Technologies has delved deeper into deciphering the behavior of South African consumers. Our technology conducted a thorough analysis of more than 100,000 bank statements, yielding several noteworthy findings:

Supplementary incomes

As per Nedbank’s findings, it’s been revealed that 1 in 3 employed South Africans engage in side hustles or supplementary income activities. Finch Technologies, as part of its core process, focuses on identifying the primary income source of individuals, whether it be a salary, wage, or grant. Our data analysis showcased a significant prevalence of supplementary incomes among South African consumers. Many individuals do not depend solely on a single income source. A typical user profile emerged, characterized by receiving a primary salary or wage and additional weekly payments, often in the form of EFTs from external sources. This pattern underscores the complex network of financial support that people often rely on to meet their financial needs.

Betting in the digital age

Recent statistics indicate that approximately 10% of South Africa’s population participates in regular gambling activities. Amid the wealth of insights extracted from the analysis of numerous bank statements, one conspicuous trend emerged: gambling and micro-betting. In 2022, the South African gambling industry generated an impressive revenue of R34 billion, marking a substantial 48% increase from the previous year. While this surge in income might not come as a complete surprise, the depth of individual engagement in betting was remarkable. Bank account data consistently revealed that significant transactions were linked to betting activities. These individuals were actively placing bets, and this data warrants attention from financial institutions and businesses, prompting them to consider its potential impact on consumer financial well-being.

Grocery shopping patterns

Regardless of whose bank statement was analyzed, grocery shopping was a constant transaction that emerged. However, the approach to this essential task varied significantly among individuals. On one end of the spectrum were the traditional “big grocery shoppers” who loaded up their carts after receiving their paychecks, ensuring they had enough supplies to last for an extended period. Conversely, some displayed much more spontaneous behavior, making multiple trips to the grocery store throughout the day. These diverse grocery shopping patterns offered valuable insights into individuals’ lifestyles and ways of managing household expenses.

Furthermore, our data also aligns with findings from National Debt Advisors, indicating that 68% of grocery store consumers in South Africa were women. Inflation played a significant role in influencing the average grocery cart size and the items consumers were purchasing. According to TrendER, South Africans are trimming expenses on non-essential items like snacks, biscuits, and desserts (by 47%) and alcoholic beverages (by 42%). On average, South Africans are spending approximately R4,542.93 per month on groceries.

Curious anomalies

Between 2018 and 2022, South Africa experienced a staggering 600% surge in fraud cases, with digital banking fraud incidents increasing by 18%. In response to this escalating need for proactive fraud prevention, AI and fintech companies are developing products designed to detect fraudulent activities efficiently. Through the analysis of 100,000 bank statements, several anomalies were detected.

For instance, in some cases, a bank account received a substantial payment one day, only to witness an almost equivalent amount, minus R4,000, leaving the account the very next day. This sudden and significant movement of funds raised red flags, triggering fraud alerts. Such anomalies often prompt financial institutions or fintechs to delve deeper into the data to understand the underlying reasons for this behavior

Another notable observation revolved around discrepancies between transaction amounts and account balances. On occasion, the bank deducted more than the transaction amount when calculating an individual’s balance. This seemingly minor detail led to questions about the accuracy of balance reporting, prompting the development of an internal detector to identify and address such cases as they arise.

As fintech continues to evolve, the insights gleaned from extensive data processing contribute to the refinement of services and offer valuable assistance to businesses in their risk assessment efforts. The digital age has ushered in a new era of financial insights, with meticulous examination of transactions across countless bank accounts providing invaluable knowledge about consumer behaviors, financial habits, and societal trends.


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