Corporates fighting for digital space

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-With non-bank competitors aggressively encroaching on their space, retail banks are under pressure to adapt to an increasingly connected consumer base, or risk losing significant market share to disruptive banking alternatives.

Technologies disrupting the traditional banking model include: peer-to-peer payments (e.g. PayPal), new payment technologies (such as Bitcoin, Samsung Pay and Google Wallet), and even the unbundling of banking by financial technology companies that provide individual services such as loans and wealth management. The digital space has clearly become the fiercest battleground; the fight for the consumer interface is intensifying with each new financial technology (fintech).

While the days of the bank being the alpha and omega of all financial transactions are long behind us, banks are not about to disappear into a vacuum. Ernst & Young’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey found that 75 percent of consumers still considered traditional banks with branches to be their primary service providers. Still, 40 percent of consumers admitted decreased dependence on banks, and reported increased excitement about the services of alternative companies. The success of non-bank competitors lies in their ability to speedily enter the market with innovative products and services that satisfy the needs of today’s demanding customer: simple, compelling banking experiences characterised by hassle-free 24/7 access, immediacy and capability. The customer journey should drive the digital banking development process, and banks are investing more in their own disruptive technologies and strengthening their digital capabilities. Banks can maintain their relevance by creating the experiences their technology-savvy customer’s desire.

“The value proposition and customer experience is greatly impacted by the digital channels and capabilities that customers can use. We believe that to be competitive and efficient, and to provide true value to customers, we need to enhance our digital capability and delivery to customers. Customers need access to self-service, and the most efficient and practical mechanism is by digital,” said Capricorn Investment Group Chief Customer Officer Ryan Geyser.

As a result, the Capricorn Group has established a formal and full time Digital division to shape and drive the group’s innovation and develop multichannel capabilities. The team, headed by Chief Digital Officer Abri Nel, is tasked with transforming the Capricorn Group into a digital enabled enterprise, by enhancing its existing capabilities and using technology to build new business models to improve performance.

With Bank Windhoek pioneering the Capricorn Group’s digital efforts, highlights include: first to market with Cellphone Banking, creation of the first locally developed and hosted solution for Online Banking (“iBank”), augmented by the recently launched Bank Windhoek Mobile App. Several exciting new capabilities are at an advanced stage of development and are poised for launch during the first half of 2017. These new capabilities are expected to further enhance Bank Windhoek’s digital offerings. Some of these capabilities have also been rolled out by fellow Capricorn Group subsidiaries in Zambia and Botswana, with those banks being on the roadmap for even further investment in digital capabilities. Capricorn Asset Management, the group’s asset manager, is now also being integrated into the greater digital strategy and these exciting developments will be announced soon.With the focused investment in a Digital capability, the Capricorn Group is now gaining momentum and is rapidly catching up with competing banks, simultaneously complementing its products with unique and differentiating features that will position the Group to become the leader in the markets where it operates.

“We need to increase awareness of what we’re doing, which is introducing competitive leading edge technologies that truly add value to customers” said Abri Nel. “That means we cannot become followers of what other banks are doing. Rather, we continue to scan the worldwide market, focusing on specific opportunities that will allow us to leapfrog the status quo. We have a pipeline of ideas which we are developing through which we aim to change perceptions and transform the Capricorn group as a digitally enabled organisation,” Nel concluded.

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