There’s a huge showdown happening in South Africa’s banking landscape

There’s a huge showdown in the banking space, says FNB chief executive for consumer, Christoph Nieuwoudt, who says that the battle ground includes players beyond just the banks.

Speaking at the BusinessTech FinTech Conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday (11 September), Nieuwoudt presented an assessment of FNB’s current banking space, noting that digital channels dominate, particularly in terms of transaction volumes.

This is led by online banking, mobile banking, while the group’s app is also showing strong growth. Branches are at the bottom of the pile.

Speaking to this digital lead, Nieuwoudt pointed to volumes of money sent via FNB’s eWallet has grown 19% to 46 million transactions by end of June 2019.

The total value transmitted was over R25 billion for the year with regular recipients continuing to grow, he said.

FNB’s mobile digital account, eWallet eXtra, has also shown significant growth accumulating a total of 140,000 active customers to date.

However, despite the rise of digital, Nieuwoudt said that banking groups still need an omni-channel approach, with cross-digital integration.

“Otherwise you will always be a niche player in the market,” he said.

This means the battle ground for not only encompasses the digital front, but also mobile, bricks and mortar and emerging platforms. It’s a fight between traditional, emerging and disrupting entities – all using technology as the platform.

Evolving tech

Nieuwoudt noted that technology is still evolving at a rapid pace, but there is a limit to how powerful processing and computing power can get – which is pushing technology into different territories.

The IOT (internet of things) is driving massive growth in the number of devices alongside significant further growth in cloud computing centres.

From here, the next big advancement is pushing into better algorithms – with things like machine learning, and AI.

In terms of where companies and banking players fit in this picture, the challenges that lie ahead are dealing with things like the elimination of cash, while also facing the threat posed by intelligent agents (like Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa) which are starting to automate many of the processes different groups typically handle.

It’s more than just banks vs fintechs, as “big tech” are also in this war, and extends to platforms as well.

Read: FNB delivers big jump in earnings thanks to unsecured loans and up-selling customers to premium accounts

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There’s a huge showdown happening in South Africa’s banking landscape