No Absa app this year

Absa says it expects to launch its long-awaited application in Q1 2013, but the bank promises a more integrated and broader approach to mobile banking than other platforms in the market currently offer.

Absa’s mobile banking app was first planned for launch in November 2011, but after reported security issues, the bank’s mobile offering was put into “delayed” status, with no reconvened date announced.

Almost a year on, all of South Africa’s “big” banks, following on the heels of FNB’s lead in the mobile platform, have released a mobile banking app in some form.

Rand Merchant Bank and Standard Bank have both released smartphone apps, while Nedbank’s App Suite is still in internal beta testing.

Broader banking

Absa has also, since, announced its mobile banking plans, and dated its app for early 2013. The reason for this delay, according to Adrian Vermooten, head of Absa Mobile Banking, is due to Absa’s mobile banking plans forming part of a much larger redevelopment process happening at Absa.

“The release of Absa’s app is part of a broader redevelopment of all digital banking channels,” Vermooten said.

This redevelopment process started with the website early last year, Vermooten pointed out, followed by Absa’s ATM platform redevelopment early this year, which all lead up to the revamp of Absa’s online banking interface, Absa Online, this year.

Adrian Vermooten – head of Absa Mobile Banking

Speaking specifically about Absa’s banking app, Vermooten said that the smartphone and tablet application was being developed as a “second generation” app, promising a “broader scope” of financial functionality than, what Vermooten described as, current “first generation” banking apps.

“Importantly, the app will round off the array of digital touchpoints Absa offers in order to cater for wide spectrums of customer requirements, sophistication levels, and devices,” Vermooten said.

Vermooten told BusinessTech that Absa is offering customers different ways to digitally interact with the bank, stemming from Absa Online accessed via desktop PC, laptops and tablets, to the App on tablets and smartphones.

Vermooten also highlighted Absa’s WAP-based Mobile Internet banking for smartphones and WIG-based SIM toolkit Cellphone Banking service, as well as USSD-powered cellphone banking.

The digital and mobile banking enviroment that Absa is trying to develop also includes the bank’s ATM network.

Revamped approach

Absa’s new Internet banking platform, Absa Online, was released in beta version to customers in May 2012, and revamped Absa’s approach to how banking customers could view and manage their accounts, credit cards, mortgages, loans, investments, unit trusts, and online share trading accounts.

“[Absa Online] represents a distinct step-change from what was a purely transactional online service, to a comprehensive suite of transactional and non-transactional services, a total portfolio view of a client’s relationship with the bank, as well as tools to better manage one’s monthly spend and assist with financial planning,” Vermooten said.

“The interface uses ‘Web 2.0’ style customisable widgets, allowing clients to personalise their page layout – to provide a consolidated, dashboard view that empowers one to make the right financial decisions, budget more effectively, and unlock opportunities for growth.”

According to Vermooten, 1.25 million individual Absa and Absa Business banking customers transact through the site.

The revamped Absa Internet banking platform has not been without its hiccups, however, having experienced major down-time in May and June 2012, and once again earlier this month (August).

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No Absa app this year