Nedbank is spending R2 billion a year digitising all its banking services – here’s what to expect

Nedbank has made a ‘100% digitisation’ commitment, and is investing R2 billion a year on bringing all of its traditional banking services onto digital channels.

In a webinar hosted by the banking group this past week, it presented the current trends it sees in digital banking in South Africa, as well as its current and future plans for bringing digital platforms to a growing base of internet users.

According to Buli Mbha, executive head of retail and business banking marketing at Nedbank, the group is spending R2 billion a year to digitise its services – building new systems from the ground up, improving accessibility, as well as the underlying technologies.

The bank has made a commitment to ‘100% digitisation’, and is introducing a host of new services to its banking app, Nedbank Money, to achieve this. It said that it is not pursuing “digital for the sake of digital”, but looking for ways to enhance the customer experience.

It has seen massive growth in digital services in terms of transactions, interactions with services (such as opening accounts, changing PINs, blocking/unblocking cards), noting that 60% of investments opened last month were done through digital platforms – while 20% of personal loans were also done here.

New features coming to its banking app are:

  • Applying for credit cards and overdrafts, loans, investments;
  • A new ‘light’ version of the app is coming soon, which will offer simpler services with low data usage;
  • A refreshed rewards scheme;
  • New payments features (particularly in rest of Africa);
  • Debit order management (to combat debit order fraud).

The group also announced the HeyNed virtual personal assistant, which is being offered to customers for R99 per month. The service works like an Amazon Alexa, or Siri, but specifically for unique banking profiles via text.

Nedbank says that it still faces some challenges with digital, particularly on the client side. There are still customer concerns about security, misunderstanding fee structures (digital banking comes at no additional costs), as well as worries about data costs (with the bank noting that data is zero-rated in-app).

The bank said that customer expectations have shifted, and customer service is being benchmarked not only against competitor banks, but also services like Uber, Airbnb.

There has been an increase in internet access in South Africa, so the opportunity for digital is there, and growing – though it is largely mobile.

While the group is embracing omni-channel banking, it said the goal is to make people comfortable with one central channel – which would ultimately see the consolidation of legacy channels (branches, call centres, etc), onto digital platforms.

However, these older channels will still be around for some time, it said, particularly for specific sectors of its client base, and as such a the full digitisation of banking is still some time away.

In preparing for this future, though, the group said it is up-skilling workers internally, so that the eventual downscaling of physical banking will have a minimal impact on staff.

Nedbank did not specify a period of time in which this downscaling will take place, but said, for now, its focus is on reducing square meterage of branches, with any other changes being “carefully managed” as they turn up.

Read: Why Nedbank is embracing open banking

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Nedbank is spending R2 billion a year digitising all its banking services – here’s what to expect