Why Capitec launched a whole new banking app

At the end of 2019, South Africa’s biggest retail bank, Capitec, launched a new banking app, which replaced its standing app that had been in clients’ hands for years.

This raised the question among some clients – why did the bank not just update its existing app?

Speaking at the BusinessTech Digital Banking Conference on Thursday (5 March) head of user experience at Capitec, Roderick May, shared insights into the reasoning for the move to launch a new app – as well as what goes into getting something like a banking app right for millions of very different customers.

Simply put, May said, the old Capitec banking app did not have something called “native functionality “- the capability to incorporate new and evolving features, like biometrics and types of data tracking.

The new platform was designed from the ground up to be much more “plug-and-play”, allowing the banking group to not only address the needs of clients as they stand today, but also future-proof it for any new technologies which may be developed.

Another reason for the new app, was personalisation and customisation.

According to May, the challenge exists in providing a digital banking platform for a wide variety of users – from very tech-savvy customers who expect a degree of complexity in their features, all the way to basic users, who may not be familiar with terminology regular bankers may take for granted, like “beneficiaries”, or “pending transactions”.

May said that the South African market isn’t homogeneous, and banking customers have different banking needs – even some that may even appear to be counter-intuitive to ‘secure’ banking.

An example would be certain households or partners that share an account, but would like a degree of privacy. To solve this specific issue, Capitec will soon be launching a ‘discreet mode’, which would allow for that.

May said that this feeds into the customisation Capitec is trying to build into its new mobile banking platform, so that every client, no matter their level of ‘complexity’ or need will be able to make the best use of it.

He said that new features go through rigorous testing, where any changes are left in the hands of test customers with no assistance from the bankers, to see how they navigate the changes and succeed or struggle.

This feedback is then sent back to the developers for tweaks and changes, before running through the process again.

“At every stage of the process, the client is at the centre of the process,” May said.


Read: South Africa’s cheapest bank accounts: Capitec vs the rest

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Why Capitec launched a whole new banking app