Qorus Banking Innovation Awards 2023 - Winner

LookSee - Enabling household adoption of renewable energy through flexible financing options

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20/09/2023 Banking Innovation

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Home efficiency platform, LookSee.co.za, together with its parent company Standard Bank, has been focused on offering flexible financing and an easy and efficient journey for families looking to adopt renewable energy in South Africa. Residential solar installations have been identified as a key factor in solving the country’s energy crisis, securing household electricity supply, boosting economic recovery and reducing carbon emissions.

Innovation presentation

LookSee and its parent company, Standard Bank South Africa, has already facilitated over R110 million in loans for solar and installed over 3 700 solar panels on homes, resulting in 3 549 tons of carbon emission reductions.

The initiative comes as South Africa’s energy crisis enters its 16th year with rolling blackouts reaching record-breaking levels due to inadequate and aging energy infrastructure which is largely coal powered. The impact of this energy crisis has been wide-ranging: creating electricity supply insecurity for families, economic constraints, increased pressure on the power grid and high levels of carbon emissions.

While government works towards improving the reliability of the grid and adding more generation capacity, residential solar installations have the potential to lessen the burden of the energy crisis and help the country reach its decarbonisation targets.

Solar power is particularly attractive to South African households. Not only does this green technology enable families to reduce their reliance on the power grid and bring down their energy bills, but it also ensures sustainable protection from loadshedding – or rolling blackouts – which this year is averaging at around 5 hours of power outages per day.

The high upfront costs of a solar installation, however, have been a barrier to entry for many households with opportunists taking advantage of the high demand with the supply of cheap or inadequate components.

Helping households find the best solar system setup and financing option for their family’s energy requirements and monthly budget is essential to ensuring their solar investment lasts for years to come.

LookSee’s online solar application process has been designed to be quick and easy, while at the same time empowering households with the information they need to make an educated decision on a solar investment. The process is also supported by a dedicated Solar customer care team which is on hand to assist with financing applications, answer questions and guide customers throughout their renewable energy journey.

Finance options:

Additional registration amount: Customers who apply for a new Standard Bank home loan will automatically be assessed to see if they qualify for an additional 20% registration amount to be used for acceptable home improvements such as solar power installations. This additional amount does not attract registration costs and successful customers also receive a 25% discount on the registration costs of the original loan amount.

Access Bond: An access bond links a customer’s transactional or savings account with their Standard Bank home loan and allows them to pay extra money into their account for use at a later stage or reduce the home loan repayments. If customers have enough available funds in their access bond, then financing a solar installation is as easy as doing an electronic transfer to their solar provider once the installation has been completed.

Re-advance Loan: If customers have a regular home loan they can apply for a re-advance loan. This option enables homeowners to apply for access to the capital payments that have already been taken off the bond. There are no additional registration costs and interest rates remain the same.

Further Loan: Customers can also have their home loan amount increased. This will, however, depend on whether there is sufficient equity on the property to cover an increased amount. With this option, there will be registration costs and interest rates depend on the customer’s credit profile.

Personal loan: For customers who don’t wish to use their home loan facility, a personal loan offers a short-term financing option for a solar energy investment. With personalised interest rates and flexible repayment terms, this is a good option for households wishing to pay off their renewable energy installation within a period of 5 years.

Solar loan: The soon-to-be-launched LookSee Solar Loan is a game changer for households who can’t or don’t want to leverage the equity in their home loans. Reserved for residential solar installations, the loan offers personalised interest rates capped at prime plus 2.5%; flexible repayment terms up to 5 years; and the option to select a solar installation that has been vetted by Standard Bank’s energy experts for product quality and service standards. The loan is based on our participation in government’s Energy Bounce Back Loan Guarantee Scheme.

Uniqueness of the project

LookSee’s flexible financing options are based on Standard Bank’s portfolio of lending solutions and its participation in government’s Energy Bounce Back Loan Guarantee Scheme.

Our decision, however, to couple these loan offerings with an option to choose a bank-approved solar installation at the same time, means customers only need one point of contact for their full solar journey.

Backed with the full support of the dedicated Solar Customer Care team, our customers are assisted through choosing the right system for their needs, finance applications, installation and ultimately settling into their new solar powered home.

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