The Standard Bank Group says growing mobile banking business is a key part of its strategy for supporting profitability and market leadership in Malawi.
The bank’s group Joint chief executive Ben Kruger said Friday after a two-day visit of the Malawi operation, that the future face of money transactions in Africa is looking increasingly mobile and that the group would like to accelerate this business segment in Malawi.
He said the group’s mobile banking facilities were working effectively in Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa where millions of customers are using them and that it would like to bring the success model to Malawi.
“Our focus will be the same in Malawi; to provide the technology at a cheap rate and allow people do their banking seamlessly. We hope to become one of the leading banks in Malawi in this area of digital banking,” said Kruger.
Mobile money transfers are increasingly seen as an effective alternative to branch banking in Africa and beyond, boosted by the growing penetration of mobile telecommunication services.
In 2013, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has estimated that mobile phone access is nearing saturation rate globally, meaning the number of mobile-cellular holders competes with global population at 6.8 billion to 7.1 billion. More than 60 percent of these are in Africa, it says.
Regarded as a ‘no-frills’ banking model on a continent where access to financial services is dogged by paperwork and sometimes sheer bureaucracy, the advent of “cell phone money” presents both its challenges and opportunities.
It can be bogged down by Africa’s notoriously slow internet download speeds and mobile network congestion. Its upside is on cutting significant costs along the settlement cycle by eliminating the need to travel, thus delivering convenience.
But Kruger touted Standard Bank’s digital platforms as being most efficient and cost-effective on the continent. “I personally have not been in a banking branch for a number of years now; it’s working really well, and is cheap,” he said.
In Malawi, utility and other bills are now being integrated into the mobile money offering by the country’s two major telecommunication companies and TNM is leading that pack.
From a customer acquisition experience, mobile money has brought new lessons for both network and financial service providers; the road to success is a battle for the same customers.