Distances have been cut with the advent of internet technology.

What used to take months to do, can now we done at the flick of a button. Uganda’s largest banks Standard Chartered, Barclays and Stanbic now offer their customers the ability to close transactions from their beds.

A statement on a one Barclays Bank website reads: “As long as you have internet access and your phone with you, you can complete numerous transactions without having to visit a branch.”

Internet banking enables one access their accounts 24/7 anywhere in the world as long as you have internet access. What’s more is that signing up is free of charge as one simply register online and then, they can view account information, download and print your bank account statements, carry out funds transfers, link accounts and carry out foreign exchange transactions.

Be that as it may, Anthony Kituuka, an Executive Director at Equity Bank Uganda says that banks are still not innovative enough. He says holding onto outdated requirements such as utility bills for one to open an account before they can access internet banking is making traditional banking out of reach of many Ugandans.

He notes that over 70% of all Ugandans are under 30 years and are currently renting, while most of the rest live in rural areas without access to utilities like power and piped water. Kituuka says that Equity bank decided to enable customers to access their bank records by swiping their finger prints and the results have been phenomenal.

Going forward, he warns that banks must offer the highest levels of convenience if the industry is to survive a siege by from foreign entertainment and communication firms like Google, Facebook, and Whatsapp; the telecommunication industry and new Fintech innovations that have gained the trust of Ugandans.

He was speaking at the 2017 Uganda Institute of Banking and Financial Services (UIBFS) public lecture under the theme “The Evolution of Fintechs in the Region: Challenges & Prospects”.

“You cannot stop technology due to its convenience. In the future, it will be possible to send money via Facebook and Whatsapp as you chat with your friend. This is the real threat to banks. Banking is something you do, not somewhere you go,” he said. “If you cannot adapt, you will die,” he warned.  

In the same vein, Phrase Donald Lubega, a digital financial services consultant noted that banks should constantly upgrade their technology systems to guard against cyber threat which has become rampant.

Lubega, a victim of ATM card fraud narrated how thieves operating in Uganda, managed to clone his card as he withdraw money, only for all his account to be drained by thugs in Brazil, Russia and other countries in Eastern Europe in the blink of an eye.

Timothy Musoke, the Head of Consulting and Technology at Laboremus pointed out that although many banks and telecommunication firms are creating smart phone apps to ease access to their services, it still takes several steps to make simple transactions.

“A large portion of Ugandans is unbanked - this presents a large opportunity, however, many banks lack a digital transformation strategy. Banks have accumulated data over the years but they have not studied the data to provide what customers want,” he said.



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