Standard Bank has unveiled what it calls a “relationship banking instant messaging service” for its customers, in a partnership with WeChat.
Sibongiseni Ngundze, head of retail banking said that the bank hopes to put the hassle of physically going into a branch and standing in queues, or calling call centres and sending emails, behind it.
Instant messaging volumes around the world have already surpassed SMS by some distance and are continuing to grow. Within a few years it is believed instant messaging will surpass many of today’s key communication mediums, the bank said.
It can take, on average, one day for an email to be returned, 15 minutes for your call to be handled efficiently, and 1.5 hours for a branch visit.
Ngundze said the new service is “like adding your personal banker to your messaging ‘friend list’ and having them available to you 24/7/365, just like many of your existing personal relationships”.
Research shows there are over one hundred million people sending instant messages worldwide, while there are 5 million WeChat users in South Africa.
Prestige and Private customers can phone or email their bankers, or speak to their bankers in-branch and provide their WeChat ID before being taken through a verification process.
They will then be registered on the network, before registering with WeChat and searching for ‘Standard Bank’ under ‘Official Accounts’ to have access to chat to the team of virtual bankers anytime.
Users will also receive 3GB of free Wi-Fi, valid for three months, through AlwaysOn in AlwaysOn zones.