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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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Stop being creepy! An essential guide for digital marketers

Advertising and marketing is becoming increasingly creepy as personalisation strategies lose the plot, writes JOAN OSTERLOH, authorised Forrester Research Partner for South Africa.

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Marketers need to be aware of the “creep factor” when deploying strategies of personalisation and individualisation in their marketing efforts, Forrester’s Brendan Witcher, VP and principal analyst serving eBusiness and channel strategy professionals, warned as early as December 2017.

Six months later, Forrester senior analyst Susan Bidel was even more direct in her message: “Marketers, you need to take control of your advertising strategies and adtech stacks now to better address today’s consumers.” She cautioned that those who didn’t, were at a high risk of annoying and creeping out the very customers needed for business growth.

In its latest research, “Marketers Versus Customers: Opposing Forces  Erupt” Forrester now finds that even though marketers set out with the best intentions to implement customer-obsessed marketing and customer experience strategies, they still end up alienating and ‘creeping out’ customers, resulting in lost loyalty.

Marketers use personalisation to make their marketing more relevant and to help it stand out, Forrester says in a blog on the study. The irony is that with all the customer data that marketers use to personalise, the one thing they seem to have forgotten to find out from consumers is whether they even want personalised communication at all, the firm writes. Combined with identity resolution and increased automation, companies have created adtech and martech stacks that are creeping people out. We think our phones are listening to us. And then Facebook admits it is doing this. So, what’s gone wrong?

The report by Melissa Parrish, Forrester’s VP and group director serving marketing professionals, highlights that marketers are ignoring their customers’ desire for anonymity, by assuming that they all want personalised experiences. They are foregoing the authenticity of their own brands by “giving lip service to brand values they think resonate with customers.” There’s an overt focus on martech at the expense of human creativity. Lastly, they’re profiling customers on precarious connections and getting it wrong, sometimes with harmful and even traumatic results, she explains.

The solution is to return to true customer-centricity by going back to basics by looking at the following, Parrish writes in the report:

  1. Remember that customers are different.  Here it’s not about customer segments or personas, but rather the extent to which they expect you to know them. Treat customers and prospects differently – e.g. prospects “want value, not a background check”.
  2. Customers are tired of lookalike ads and direct mail that is poorly personalised, trying to get them to buy things for which they’re not even in the market.  Choose your target audience, focus on them, and then let go of the others.
  3. Programmatic marketing has its upsides and downsides.  Avoid the two extremes of advertising at scale across multiple channels on the one hand and limiting advertising to channels where everyone seems to be at once, such as Facebook, on the other.  Instead, target your audience with responsible content and choose platforms on which you can reach them online and offline.
  4. Consider whether you should be using cookie, key-stroke and audience data at all for your brand.  Intent-based target marketing through search optimization might be a smarter choice.
  5. Don’t assume that personalisation will make customer experiences more relevant.  Rather interview your customers and test different variations of personalised content to find the right balance between information, recommendations, simplicity and empathy.
  6. Don’t ignore the 20% who don’t want any personalisation at all – use your customer insights data to identify them, and then meet their expectation of no personalisation.

Parrish offers important recommendations for the winning marketers of the future. Since the success of marketing is measured by the bottom line of revenue generation, truly customer-obsessed marketers need KPIs that are “fine-tuned” to understand what customers value, not what’s valuable to the brand, she writes. What customers want and value should be defined in terms of four dimensions along the axes of functional-experiential, and economic-symbolic.  Then, measure the dimensions along the entire customer life cycle, she explains. What this requires is the following:

Firstly, marketing and Customer Experience (CX) teams need to unify and leverage one another’s unique skills to deliver best-in-class customer experiences that drive loyalty, customer retention and growth.  Truly customer-obsessed brands will bring CX and marketing together to harness the best that both have to offer.

Secondly, brands need to rebuild trust.  As consumers become more privacy-savvy, they will become more selective about the brands with which they are willing to share their data.  Marketers need to develop ‘Privacy Personas’ as a new marketing segment to ensure that they deliver experiences their customers are comfortable with.

Thirdly, refocus on creative excellence. In Parrish’s words “new prospecting strategies will center on great creative making an emotional impact and contextual targeting driving relevance.”

Lastly marketers need to find ways to extend customer obsession throughout the enterprise. Employees need to be empowered to deliver on the brand promise, which must align to and be in harmony with CX.   The companies that thrive will be those whose CX truly reflects brand values, Parrish concludes.  

Sources: “Marketers Versus Customers: Opposing Forces  Erupt18 Sept 2019. By Melissa Parrish with Sharyn Leaver, Brigitte Majewski, Caroline Robertson, and Stephanie Liu.

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Which should you use: PIN or Password?

By CHAD HAMMOND, a digital security expert at NordPass

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As users of this digital age, we have many different choices. You can enable or disable web cookies, depending on how much information you want a website to gather about you. You can use encrypted services or unencrypted ones, depending on how much you’re concerned about your privacy and security.

You can also use a PIN (Personal Identification Number) or password to secure your digital devices or online accounts. However, in this particular case, the choice for most of us is not as straightforward as it seems.

The other day I also had the very same discussion among my friends with three different sides of opinion. One side was backing PINs and claiming that they are safer than passwords. Others couldn’t believe that PINs made up of four, six, or eight digits can be more reliable than long and complex passwords. And the third group was claiming that both PIN and password serve the same purpose of identification and are safe to use. All sides had valuable insights, but we couldn’t reach an agreement. Sparked by this discussion, I decided to look deeper into this topic and look for the truth.

When should you use a PIN?

PIN stands for a Personal Information Number and is used the same as a password to prove that you have the right to access your data. A PIN usually consists of a string of four to eight numbers, and it was first introduced in the 1960s together with cash machines (ATMs). The obvious drawback is that a PIN is limited to 0-9 numerical digits. A PIN made up of four numbers offers 10,000 possible combinations. That may seem like an easy nut to crack, but it’s not as straightforward.

PINs are normally used on touchscreen devices and always require manual data entry. An automated brute-force attack may not work as most of the systems that use a PIN also specify maximum attempts count before disabling the device.

For example, if your device limits PIN entry to six attempts, there is a 0.06% chance that someone will be lucky enough to crack the four-digit code. Of course, if your PIN is ‘0000’ or ‘1234,’ the probability of being hacked increases massively.

When should you use a password?

A good password is a combination of numerical digits, upper- and lowercase letters, and various special characters. It could also be a phrase made up of words with the same requirements. Like the PIN, the password concept first appeared in the early 1960s and has been used ever since. A 10-character password has 59,873,693,923,837,900,000 different variations, and most of you are probably thinking you know which of the two is more secure. However, it’s not all about mathematics.

Passwords are used online or for devices like computers, which usually don’t have any limits on failed attempts. That’s why passwords can be compromised with the help of an automated brute-force attack. Of course, not all attacks are practical, as most of them would take years to crack a strong password. Buthacking technologies are evolving fast, making such attacks more sophisticated and successful.

Password vs. PIN: the verdict

Going back to the discussion that I had with my friends, we can safely say that all the opinions were correct in one way or another. The answer to this question depends on where you use your PIN or password.

If you want to unlock your touchscreen device, the safest and easiest way is to use a PIN because of the manual entry and the attempt limit. When it comes to online accounts or computers, passwords are much safer due to the simple math of available combinations.

Also, you can enable multi-factor authentication (2FA) in most online accounts . The 2FA adds another layer of safety, minimizing the risks of automated brute-force attacks. Even if someone manages to get your strong password, they won’t be able to access your account, as the second step of verification will stop them.

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