First Capital Bank (FCB) Malawi says it is on a transformation path to reinforce its relevance to different segments of the population in line with changes in consumer preferences, lifestyle and levels of sophistication.
The bank’s head of digital transformation and ecosystems Ewen Hiwa said this on the sidelines of their WhatsApp banking launch in Blantyre.
He said the bank’s customers are now seeking simple, holistic, embedded and direct experiences.
Said Hiwa: “WhatsApp banking is a direct response to that emerging trend. It is a commonly known fact that majority of people are using WhatsApp, so it makes perfect sense to take banking to WhatsApp instead of pushing users to different platforms or applications.
“We like engaging with our customers, but Covid-19 has taught us that we don’t have to see them all the time. In the same way that the handshake is no longer in use, more and more customers are embracing digital transactions.”
Covid-19 has pushed the world towards a default ‘digital- first’ model and with FCB’s WhatsApp platform, customers can send money and create a virtual wallet for anyone on the app.
Hiwa said this wallet enables beneficiaries to effect transactions such as re-sending the money to their contacts and creating more e-wallets, among others, just as any customer of the bank would.
“We have opened up our platform and this is part of our digital transformation. We will be getting closer to the digitally connected ecosystem,” he said.
Commenting on the security of the platform, Hiwa said WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption, and the bank has added two-factor authentication at both log in and at transaction level to enhance security.
“For example, you cannot complete a transfer to someone unless you enter a one-time password,” he said.
Further, Hiwa said all passwords are encrypted and there is real-time number validation and the system automatically logs out after seconds of inactivity.
One of the customers at the launch, David Dulla, managing director of Orange Hill Trading, who is also the bank’s prestige customer said, he is impressed with the innovation.
“I am thoroughly impressed with what I have witnessed. It’s simply amazing,” he said.
FCB is a subsidiary of FMB Capital Holdings Limited, a banking group with operations in Malawi, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe and an asset base in excess of $1.2 billion.