The Paperless buzz

Those in touch with the banking scene will have noticed the emerging “paperless hype”, a number of banks have eliminated form filling procedures in their banking halls. The growing list includes CBZ, NMB, ZB, Steward Bank and CABS.

What  is “paperless”, “digital” banking?

Paperless banking is the move towards automation and online availability of manual processes to improve operational efficiency and productivity. The upside is that customer service and the banking experience improves, eliminating the need for form filling and queuing for basic transactions.

Each paperless will model from bank to bank, for example CABS no longer offers  bill payments, RTGS, inter account transfers, mini statements and balance inquiries from branches. Similarly, CBZ has stopped processing paper RTGS transactions and internal transfer fund requests in branch.

THE THREE FACTORS THAT HAVE INFLUENCED THE UPTAKE OF DIGITAL SOLUTIONS ARE:
  • INCREASED MOBILE PENETRATION.
  • THE MOBILE PAYMENTS REVOLUTION.
  • THE CASH CRISIS.

Why the sudden move to paperless and digital?

The three factors that have influenced the uptake of digital solutions are:

  • Increased mobile penetration.
  • The mobile payments revolution.
  • The cash crisis.

In Q3 of 2017 mobile penetration sat at 100.5% with 13 799 638 subscribers. The phenomenal growth in the subscriber base coincided with the mobile payments revolution that has paved the way for innovative offerings such as ecocash to gain traction with up to 70% of daily transactions processed on the platform. Add the cash crisis to the fray and the financial landscape was fertile for uptake of digital platforms. The mass uptake of mobile payment solutions allowed new agile entrants link legacy systems to the mobile payments infrastructure.

Steward Bank’s link between mobile money and traditional banking has seen them gain solid ground in the market due to the convenience and simplicity of their offering.  The disruption caused by the above factors has led to the need to adjust traditional banking models to remain responsive to the needs of a dynamic and under-served market.

So who wins?

It’s easy to presume a zero sum outcome will occur in favour of banks as they go digital.  However this is far from the truth, digitization tends to benefit both bank operations and customer experience.

Aside from the core benefits of enhanced operational efficiency, increased digitization allows banks access to new data sets ,“big data”, across several touch points of their operations. With increased access to key transactional, demographic and other relevant data, banks will be in a position to process and analyse an endless stream of data and gain valuable insights. This data can be used to make data driven to enhance and tailor product offerings.

Customers stand to benefit most in terms of an enhanced user experience. If you’ve ever used some of the digital and mobile  banking solutions including such as Zipit and Ecocash, you can testify to the convenience and functionality mobile/digital solutions provide to the banking experience. Valuable time is no longer wasted in filling out forms, and most importantly you have more control of your banking experience 24/7.

All in all, the move towards mainstream digital banking presents an interesting prospect for Zimbabwe and bodes well with the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

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