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Connecting the bank of tomorrow

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Africa has the capability to approach banking in a whole new manner. In fact, today very few Africans have access to traditional banking accounts. The issue that arises is a lack of infrastructure, writes RESHAAD SHA, Chief Strategy Officer at DFA.

Mobile banking is quickly becoming Africa’s bank of the future. With its largely untapped possibility, the platform has the capacity to enable people to make instant payments, transact directly, transfer money internationally, and manage savings in real time. According to Bill Gates in his 2015 Annual Letter, by 2030, two billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payments with their mobile digital devices. In fact, according to the recent Ericsson Mobility Report, Africa is expected to reach 100% mobile penetration by 2021 and is, therefore, one of the largest markets for mobile subscriptions. With the growing rate of mobile penetration in Africa, mobile banking will be the ideal solution to reach the unbanked market within the fourth industrial revolution.

The shift from brick and mortar to always-mobile

The traditional brick and mortar branch model of African banks poses a challenge when attempting to reach large populations in geographically dispersed towns and villages in Africa. Reaching the un-banked through the traditional model presents logistic, infrastructure, and distribution challenges, which raises the cost of banking services that are intended for a price-sensitive market.

Africa has responded to this challenge by leveraging mobile penetration to put the bank in the user’s hand. Add to that the enhanced user benefits of increased convenience, i.e. the ability to bank and transact anytime from anywhere, reduced risk associated with holding physical cash, and an ecosystem of vendors, applications, and e-wallet-related services, and the stage is set for sustained future growth in mobile banking.

With this in mind, banks have started to implement mobile money systematically throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association) has mentioned that 52% of all mobile money services are in Sub-Saharan Africa, making it the leading region worldwide. Already almost half (19 million) of Kenya’s 44 million population subscribe to M-Pesa mobile money services, and the rest of Africa seems to be on a similar trajectory.

For example, a survey conducted by World Wide Worx found that cellular banking leaped ahead by a significant 9% in a year, up to 37% in 2013. App-based banking also demonstrates the popularity of mobile banking, increasing to 37% in the same time period. Clearly, users like the idea of effectively having their banking services in their pocket, and this trend will only grow.

Potential pitfalls

Despite positive projections for the uptake of mobile banking, there are a number of barriers that may delay the development of the bank of the future. These include the digital divide, a lack of complex regulatory frameworks that will protect consumers from cybercrime, and a lack of broadband infrastructure. Pervasive high-speed connectivity needs to be the backbone of the bank of the future.

Enabling the bank of the future

Moving towards a vision for the bank of the future is more than just an ideal for someday—it is now quickly becoming a necessity. Banks are no longer facing competition from similar financial institutions with the same legacy systems to contend with. Current business models can be disrupted in an instant by other companies that may not even be in banking itself but that have leveraged digital technology to serve a traditional bank’s customers in new ways.

One example of this is Apple, Samsung, and Google, who have developed their own e-wallet technologies. Another is Bitcoin, which operates on the block chain platform, eliminating the need for banking intermediaries and enabling direct, peer-to-peer transactions that don’t incur traditional banking transaction fees. Telecommunications companies similarly have a keen eye on new ways to extend their reach and garner new revenue with mobile-payment and money-transfer offerings. Banks’ business models are already being disrupted in much the same way as technology has disrupted the those of other sectors, e.g.  Uber’s disruption of the taxi industry. If a lesson is to be learnt from all of this, it is to anticipate competition from non-traditional sources.

Banks, therefore, have a choice to make: become content with serving as transaction engines for new innovators that are able to offer more compelling services efficiently, and conveniently, or become disruptors in their own right by innovating their service offerings and leveraging the mobile platform.

While the former path may well lead a bank to assuming the role of understudy to innovative new upstarts, it is the latter which assures that the bank of the future can become a reality and continue to help its customers manage and build their personal wealth. This reality will of course not be possible without the foundation of high-speed connectivity.

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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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