In an interview with Moneyweb Rautenbach revealed that the app will be launched to Absa’s staff in November and that it will then be available to clients in the first quarter of next year.
When asked about Absa’s digital strategy, given that all the other big banks have already launched their apps to their clients in a drive to get them to migrate to cheaper digital platforms, Rautenbach explained that under the bank’s retail banking strategy, nothing is ever done in isolation.
“Digital banking is just a functional component (of retail banking) that is critical,” he said. “Whatever we do will have a digital component.”
Absa is the biggest retail bank in South Africa by client numbers – currently around 11m and soon to be even higher when the inorganic growth of acquiring Edcon’s debt portfolio comes to fruition come November 1.
Then the client numbers could be pushed up to about 13m, Rautenbach said.
Not all of these clients will use something like a banking app and Rautenbach reiterated that it is important to understand that customers want multiple platforms and that you cannot neglect the one in favour of the other.
“We think of our digital journey as a continuation of events rather than just a single event. It’s a journey on a set of tracks that will enable customer migration to digital channels over time and will include enablement across borders,” Rautenbach said.
Barclays, Absa’s majority shareholder, recently launched its Pingit mobile-to-mobile payment system in Kenya where customers can send money across borders using only the recipient’s phone number.
Rautenbach said that technology and services like these are part of what Barclays brings to the table for Absa and its clients. He said innovations like Pingit and CashSend, where Absa allows you to send funds to people without bank accounts that can then be withdrawn from Absa ATM using just a reference number and access code, will eventually develop and expand. It can become Absa to non-Absa solutions, then ultimately cross-border solutions and will drive “innovation over time”.
About the app Rautenbach said that it will be functionality-rich and embedded in the native of the device and will be more than what is available in the market. “It will be that plus incremental,” he said.