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Banks having mid-life crisis

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Banks are experiencing a midlife crisis. They desperately want to transform and become digitally enabled but they are being hamstrung by legacy systems, data silos and disjointed marketing, says CARLA PETERSEN, Senior Business Director at Acceleration, London.

Digitally maturing organisations who are leveraging technology to redefine their businesses understand that this journey starts with transforming their customers’ experience of their brand through the transformation of their operational models, which ultimately leads to the transformation of their business models.

They, therefore, treat their customer data as an asset and foster a culture that supports rapid iteration, rapid prototyping and risk-taking, enabled through well-integrated marketing technology. If something doesn’t work, they chalk it up to learning and try something else.

Yet, banks are inherently risk-averse. This is not unexpected given that the financial industry is one of the most heavily regulated, especially when it comes to the responsible use of their customer’s personal data. Most have the challenge of integrating expensive legacy systems that are still being used and navigating the slippery slope of digital analytics, mobile, social and cloud solutions that should enable the modern marketing capabilities of their organisations. A common theme, too, is the lack of executive-level buy-in and commitment to drive the type of cultural change that puts the customer at the centre of the business strategy. So where do some of the opportunities lie that will empower banks to be more future ready?

Data silos

A recent study conducted by Wunderman and research partners, Penn Schoen Berland, (in which 250 senior executives from global brands were interviewed) indicate that whilst 99% of all executives surveyed believe that data is critical to achieve success, 62% feel that they are unable to convert this data into insights or action and an even further 68% say they can’t use the data to create relevant messages. 

Banks have a wealth of information about their customers’ income, lifestyles and purchasing behaviour. The problem is that this data resides in silos within the organisation, making it impossible to understand what a customer needs when they need it – much less accurately predicting their needs over time so that the customer benefits from every interaction they have with the brand. The credit card division works off a different dataset to the home loan division, for instance. The result could be that the bank ends up offering a credit card to a customer who already has two or three, rather than offering him preferential rates on a home loan because the bank knows he’s looking to buy a house.

When data is integrated and centralised, all departments work towards a common KPI: to drive business growth by meeting the needs of a particular customer at a particular point in their lifecycle.

Yet, performance in banks is still measured by business-unit KPIs. This has resulted in disjointed organisational cultures and decentralised decision-making.

Stop-gap solution

There is some awareness of this problem though, as seen by the trend towards creating cross-functional teams when launching a new product or brand experience. In these set-ups, brand and product teams, marketing teams and the IT department come together to focus on what a good customer experience looks like and how technology and data can support it.

Once the cross-functional brainstorm is finished, however, the different teams go their separate ways to focus on their individual objectives that usually have nothing to do with the KPIs that result in digital transformation. Digital transformation requires strong leadership and vision to drive the change and reap the rewards.

Customer first

All marketing and digital transformation strategies need to put the customer experience first – and that requires a new approach to data management, a new approach to technology enablement and, most importantly, a new approach to organisational culture.

This cultural change can only be driven from the top and it is imperative that senior executives integrate digital transformation across all their products and services and create a team of digital experts who are experienced in modern marketing practices and understand the customer journey and how data and technology can enable that experience. Until this happens, the agility crisis facing banks will continue, putting their business models at risk.

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AppDate: uKheshe bring banking to the masses

In his apps roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights uKheshe, FNB’s banking app with its will feature, Split Payments, Momentum Safety Alert and Fleetonomy.

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uKheshe micro transaction platform

Financial inclusion took another step forward as local start-up, uKheshe, South Africa’s cheapest and most convenient QR cash card and micro transaction platform, won the 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa competition. 

“The issue of financial inclusion is a global one and the more we can do to uplift the unbanked and under banked, the healthier their respective economies will become,” says Clayton Hayward, co-founder, uKheshe.

While 1.2 billion people have opened a financial account since 2011, there is still an estimated 1.7 billion adults worldwide (or 31% of adults) who don’t have a basic transaction account.  Globally, two-thirds of adults without an account cite a lack of money as a key reason, which implies that financial services aren’t yet affordable or designed to fit low-income users.

To find out more about uKheshe click here

FNB’s banking app with will feature

First National Bank now lets its customers draw up their own wills via the FNB Online Banking platform at no cost. To date, the bank has seen a significant increase in the number of clients who drafted their own wills online, with over 52 000 clients already accessing the functionality.

Approximately 80% of South Africans don’t have a valid will in place; and many people believe that it’s a need only when they get older, or later in life. 

“Whilst the digital process is simple and easy to use, the solution also helps with a dedicated client support centre should clients need further assistance or advice regarding the drafting of their wills,” says Johan Strydom, Growth Head, FNB Wealth and Investments. “The solution aims to simplify the process and allows customers to easily draft a will online anytime and at any place, at no cost. In addition, FNB will keep your original will in safe custody at no extra cost.”

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Available the FNB app which can be be downloaded here.

Split Payments

PayFast has launched Split Payments, a South African-first that instantly splits a portion of an online payment with a third party. The service is designed to facilitate fast, safe payments for platform-based businesses, including online marketplaces.

For those who run a marketplace that brings together multiple sellers or merchants looking for new sales channels, Split Payments addresses payment headaches with a simple API integration.

Consumers are used to engaging with large global transactional platforms such as AirBnB, Uber, and Amazon. The benefits and extended reach of these types of platforms are catching on locally, and organisations like estate agency groups and even community marketplaces are setting up digital trading platforms.

The app allows businesses to instantly split out commission, membership or listing fees, when a payment is made via one of its supported payment methods.

For each online payment received  the business can determine what the split is, either a fixed amount, a percentage, or a combination of both. Custom recurring payment integration, such as subscriptions payments, can also be split automatically.

Platform: iOS and Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download Split Payments here

Read more about Momentum’s new Safety Alert app and Fleetonomy.

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Why 4G is still a thing

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Even with the 5G era already upon us, investment in 4G/LTE networks is still vitally important for operators in sub-Saharan Africa and must remain a core focus of network construction for the immediate future. This is according to David Chen, Vice-President, Huawei Southern Africa. 

“Currently, the mobile broadband penetration rate in Africa is only 47%, while 4G penetration rate is merely 10%,” Chen said.

“Insufficient coverage causes LTE users to fall back to the 2G or 3G networks, resulting in significant decline in user experience. It also leads to congestion on the 2G and 3G networks and makes it difficult to release spectrum used by 2G and 3G.”

Chen said that LTE and 5G complement each other and are evolving in parallel. In the next few years, 5G will mainly be used in more industrial communications.

LTE will remain the primary choice for global mobile communications through 2025. It will form the basic layer of national networks, especially when it comes to the mobile broadband access.

“It will take a long time for 5G to provide nationwide continuous coverage. Before that, enhanced LTE networks can guarantee optimal user experience for 5G users, including services such as VR, AR, and cloud gaming,” said Chen.

He said that it is important for operators to invest in 4G to secure future growth, as it is estimated that there will be an additional 80 million LTE users in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.

Driven by this growth, LTE traffic in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by a factor of 8.8. By 2025, about 80% of all data traffic in the region will be over an LTE network.

LTE will also be the main source of future revenue for operators.

“According to GSMA Intelligence, 2G and 3G users in sub-Saharan Africa will gradually migrate to 4G,” said Chen. “By 2025, the proportion of 2G users will drop from 46% to 12%.”

Part of the reason for the migration to 4G is because the ecosystem is mature.

“The price of feature phones supporting VoLTE in the sub-Saharan Africa market has been as low as $25,” Chen said.

Since 5G equipment is already available, there is an opportunity for operators to build out their 4G networks while ensuring that they can evolve to 5G in future.

Chen offered the following tips to operators to ensure they are ready for 5G:

  • All future equipment installations should be 5G ready, allowing easy upgrades to 5G through software updates.
  • Software should support multi-standard spectrum sharing to improve spectrum efficiency, and to allow the smooth migration of 2G and 3G users.
  • Networks must support 4G and 5G coordination, in terms of spectrum, operation and maintenance. This will ensure that users have a consistent experience as we enter the 5G era.
  • The value of existing ICT infrastructure, such as base station sites, must be maximised to avoid overlapping services and wasted resources. This would mean boosting the capacity and coverage of every station for optimum efficiency.
  • Carriers should explore the business case for all possible 5G innovations when building 4G networks, and not just embrace 5G for its own sake. This will mean building business models around IoT, video, live broadcast, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
  • It is important that operators build partnerships with providers that can support the ongoing spectrum evolution with fast site upgrades and large-capacity solutions. The idea is to maximise the value of 4G networks, and smoothly evolve to 5G without unnecessary infrastructure investment.

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