Is it a phone, is it a bank?

When Christopher Latham Sholes invented the Typewriter in 1868, his intension wasn’t to decorate the house with a bulk button machine but to ease the pain with which writing made, to simplify life and this is exactly the purpose of technology.

Microsoft in later years thought the machines were too bulky hence came up with a keyboard. Same idea, different weight and the keyboard has lessened in weight by the years to a simple inbuilt smart keyboard in tabs and smart phone visible by a simple touch and so has banking revolved.

Before computers, a bank customer had to possess ledger cards, notify a bank days before a substantial withdraw. Banks worked lesser hours so as to use the rest to do the manual work. This was expensive as banks had to employ extra staff.

Gone are the days. Technology has shaped the banking sector.  Banks have embraced technology in their day –today operations. One can now access their bank account, request for statements, transfer or withdraw money using a mobile telephone.

Mobile phones have literally revolutionized developing nations and the poor. In India for examples, farmers use mobile phones to compare prices of competing food buyers. This has resulted into more competition among food buyers which ultimately benefited the poor farmers. House workers in India use mobile phones to contact clients and set payments. Without phone, house workers would have to walk from home to home seeking for work.

As technology increases, perhaps more new products will also develop for mobile phones, such as educational products, business advice, weather updates to be adding to the existing ones. Banking on mobile phones holds promise, and the future of the sector looks bright provided regulators are willing to be flexible.

Financial institutions such as Stanbic Bank, dfcu bank Centenary bank embraced the innovation in the banking sector. The focus of mobile banking is quite similar involving depositing to clients’ accounts, withdrawing, making utility payments and so on but some banks have marketed their  brands quite too well better than their counterparts.

As banks consolidate operations in search of profits, they have to reach out to new customers. A report from the World Bank on November 13th 2007 argued that promoting access to financial services in Africa should be a priority, as it would boost growth and help reduce the income gap between rich and poor.

According to the same report, only 20% of families held banks accounts as of November 13th 2007. Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania had less than one physical bank branch per 100,000 people. Opening an account in Cameroon required US$700—more than many of its people earned in a year.  Even in South Africa, where the financial sector was far more sophisticated, almost half of adults did not have bank accounts as of November 2007.

Many Ugandans stash money under their mattresses or keep their savings as cattle. The rural population rely onto informal services, such as burial societies or savings clubs to mobilize savings.

Splashing out

New technology and innovation improve efficiency. Ugandan banks, having learned lessons in their home market, pioneered innovations elsewhere in the region especially Kenya. Few Ugandans have a bank account, but many have mobile phones: Financial services are offered over mobile phones—though it is not always clear whether they can be called banks or not. By keeping costs down and building up scale, it reckons micro lending is at least as profitable as other bank services.

But competition among banks is growing. Taking the lead in innovation is key in retention and acquisition of new business is critical. As dfcu buys out former Crane Bank to focus on brick and mortar, other financial service providers are already leveraging on technology to grow the business line.

Stanbic App

Stanbic App is a regional digital platform that allows you to manage your bank accounts across 8 countries within and outside Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Namibia, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe).

The Stanbic App is referred to as the “remote control” of Internet banking. More complex transactions can be conducted using Online (Internet) Banking. The App enables a customer to perform these banking transactions while on the move. The two channels will remain complementary of each other with a focus of creating the right synergy and fit for purpose functionality.

Pride Mobile

Extending financial services to the communities, particularly unbanked and poor people has a huge impact in promoting financial inclusion. It is a faster, cheaper and safer way to transfer money than the alternatives, such as slow, costly transfers via post offices, or handing an envelope of cash to a bus driver. And here comes Pride mobile.

Pride Microfinance embraced the biometric technology of withdrawing at a time when it such innovations seemed impossible in the eyes of an ordinary Ugandan. For the lucky ones, they  watched such biometric technology in Bond Classic Movies.

Pride mobile shaped the microfinance sector in Uganda.

CenteMobile

“CenteMobile is a 24/7 full banking service that allows customers to access their accounts using their mobile phones anytime and anywhere.” Reads a statement on bank’s website. CenteMobile app connects a Centenary bank customer to the bank where they access bank services. One can pay for utility bills, do mobile money transactions among other transactions.

Barclays Bank Uganda

Barclays Bank Uganda touts its mobile app as “your Barclays Branch on your Android Phone or Tablet”. The app has a host of features that indeed qualify it as your “Barclays branch” on your device. These include; locating a Barclays Uganda Branch or ATM closest to where you are,viewing your accounts, as well as viewing movements and transactions in your account

Bank of Africa mobile wallet

Bank Of Africa (BOA) positioned its mobile app as “step towards Mobile Money”. BOA lets you transfer funds, pay bills.

Equity bank’s Eazzy 247.

Eazzy 247 is a mobile banking service that allows you access to bank services using your mobile phone. Eazzy 247 access is available through MTN, Africell, Airtel & UTL USSD, SMS & internet services, mobile APP on your smart phone, making it easy for you to transact anywhere, anytime.

Dfcu mobile banking

Just like the platforms from other banks, dfcu mobile banking allows you to buy airtime, check your balance, request for a mini statement, transfer money from your account to another account, request for a cheque book.

Just like honey, use of technology gets sweeter by the minute, I can deposit, withdraw, check balance, buy airtime, Pay my Yaka and water bills in the comfort of my sitting room, sipping a cold glass of mango juice while using Stanbic App on my phone. How better could it get?

Truly, the saying is real ‘ebilungi bilimumaso’, the Abraham Lincoln’s never imagined the electronic movement of money and here we are, who knows what our grandchildren will be experiencing in this sea of technology.

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