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Banking faces massive change

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Millions of dollars are spent to understand the impact of market forces on the banking sector, but says DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa, it is worthwhile to consider which ones could have an impact to avoid being caught off-guard.

A range of models and millions of dollars in consulting hours are expended to understand the potential impact of a range of market forces on the retail banking sector. While the potential outcomes are fraught with unpredictability, it is worthwhile to pause and consider some of the forces that could have an impact to avoid being caught off-guard.

Some of the major forces potentially playing out in the retail banking sector include:

·        The rise of the individual and the independent economic, social, and political power that this has brought to individuals;

·        The individual as the centre of the universe, marked by a “don’t do anything to diminish me or my rights without my consent” worldview;

·        The rise of the collective, which paradoxically puts groups – including anything from the state to social movements, supporter clubs, and alumni organisations – as aggregated participants in decision-making;

·        The ease of access to massive computing power for anyone who wants it;

·        The use of collateralised logic to make decisions and deliver insights, driven by big data learning and insights with predictive capabilities;

·        Massively synthesised delivery to users on devices anywhere, anytime;

·        Rapidly emerging and disintegrating business models for the creation of value, often accompanied by equal destruction of value, such as those of Google, Airbnb, and Facebook; and

·        The commoditisation of historical value-added processes such as risk assessment and payments, and thus of human logic and variability.

Two main forces of change in retail banking

In financial services, the two key forces that are set to fundamentally influence the sector are the rise of the individual (and by extension of groups), and the data-originated insights and collective individual rights inferred and accorded by a business model.

These two forces are set to change the retail banking industry by removing banks’ ownership of the payment – or financial services ‘offer’ – to customers. Customers no longer come to the bank to make their financial arrangements: they do them wherever they are through a number of channels, conducting all manner of purchasing activities whether it’s travel, medicine clothes, capital goods, music, transport, and more. Here, customers are simply relying on the process of delivery to give them their goods, without caring whether a bank is involved at all.

Banks therefore need to collaborate with providers in new business models and networks using all the collective data at their disposal to originate pre-prepared offers in real time in response to customer generated activities, or because of external events. Considering the dramatic increase in the customer’s rights and decision-making power, banks can expect customers to begin ‘owning’ their digital identities and asserting their rights and terms over contracts, usage, payments and more. Customers will assert their digital identity in explicit ways – such as putting customer-defined limits on content purchases – as well as modelled ways, for example automatically approving certain purchases because previously modelled or inferred behaviour shows customers agree with that type of purchase timing and value.

A shift in power

This shifts power from corporates to individuals, equalising the relationship between the bank and the customer, and forcing banks to apply insights and timeliness in a range of personalised offers to seduce the customer. Here, the brand name takes a back seat to the importance, timing,  quality and relevance of the offer. Customers will also negotiate and leverage their group power – for example by associating with certain support clubs, alumni organisations or social causes, customers will expect banks and financial services providers to know this and adapt offers accordingly.

These are no doubt uncertain times and banks face a very different world to what the sector has been used to. It is important therefore to hedge bets by building new capabilities so that banks are well-placed to outmanoeuvre their competitors.

Banks’ first priority should be a systematic analysis of gaps in current development spend, followed by the development of a roadmap with specific business cases and deliverables.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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