Standard Bank South Africa has been recognised for proving the value of banking to grassroots South Africans. Celent, an international research and consulting firm, has named the bank its 2013 Model Bank: Digital and Omnichannel for the bank's AccessBanking concept and range of services.
Celent focuses on the application of information technology in the global financial services industry.
Standard Bank South Africa's AccessBanking solutions have opened up a market of almost 10-million new customers, by removing barriers to adoption of banking among those unable to access them before. In the process, AccessBanking is bringing many underprivileged South Africans into the mainstream economy by enabling them to build a financial platform.
In a report about AccessBanking, Celent says that most traditional banks have avoided the underbanked segments of their communities as they are seen as being unprofitable and difficult to serve.
The report commends Standard Bank South Africa for "going directly to the people and changing the value proposition of financial services in South Africa". Kabelo Makeke, Head of Inclusive Banking at Standard Bank South Africa, says that recognition from an international organisation gives banks in other emerging economies the confidence to try an inclusive approach.
"While it's always gratifying to receive awards like this, we are especially pleased when they take the industry forward and drive innovation that ultimately benefit our customers. Since 2010, when we first rolled out AccessBanking, 6.8-million people have opened AccessAccounts. By transforming our back-end processes and making intelligent use of mobile technology, we have been able to reduce the costs of administering these accounts and cut our bank charges allowing us to pass the saving on to our AccessBanking customers.
"We expect the business to grow exponentially, not only as new customers come on board but as existing AccessBanking customers grow their financial needs. "The fact that Celent has made this objectively clear means that more banks should choose inclusivity as the road to sustainability and, in the process, begin to roll back the boundaries of poverty worldwide by taking banking to the people," says Mr Makeke.
Initially, Standard Bank South Africa recruited employees from within communities where access to branches was difficult or expensive, enabling them with mobile technology to open bank accounts for customers and issue bank cards.
The bank also established some 4 000 AccessPoints in community shops, where owners benefited from increased consumer traffic through their facilities. Using their cellphones and AccessPoints, customers can do all the usual banking transactions at minimal cost to themselves and to the bank.
"Our investment into creating this effective banking eco-system, has been very beneficial to our AccessBanking customers," Mr Makeke says. "They are benefiting every day from our easy to use and convenient AccessBanking services. Inevitably, this will also pay off for our economy as a whole." For more information on AccessBanking see www.standardbank.co.za/accessbanking.
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