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African banks accelerate digital channels to absorb Covid tremors

African banks accelerate digital channels to absorb Covid tremors

Absa Tanzania has said the acceleration of digital channels have helped banks in Africa to survive tremors of the Covid-19 pandemic.

African banks focus on digitisation started well before the pandemic, reflecting its need to deepen financial inclusion and reach the unbanked.

However, the greater push for digitalisation came with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Absa Tanzania, Head of Customer Experience and Digital Banking, Samuel Mkuyu was reflecting on the presentations from messages of the Inaugural of Africa Banking Conference hosted by Absa, themed: “Re-imagining Banking in Africa in a Post-Covid World,” held recently.

“Banks across the African continent remained profitable and capital ratios stayed comfortably above minimum regulatory requirements against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said, adding a panel of experts from Absa from across the continent has revealed, interpreting resonant messages from banks, regulators and experts who presented at the conference.

For example, Absa Bank Tanzania financial performance in the first six months this year points to a recovery as economies reopen and vaccination rates pick up, according to presentations at the conference.

According to Mr Mkuyu in Tanzania digital banking services continue to expand, driven by convenience, increasing financial inclusion and mobile penetration rate.

Local banks have quickly capitalised on alternative channels such as mobile and internet banking, Smart ATMs, Contactless POS transactions and Virtual assistance.

“This has strengthened the accessibility of banking and related services, and further helped to cater to the needs of customers without any physical interactions or branch visitations,” said Mkuyu, who was seconding the views of two Absa officials who had earlier written on the findings of the conference, namely Timothy Wambu, CFA, Head of Equity Research, Absa Kenya; and Khayelihle Mthembu, Equity Analyst, South Africa Banks Research, Absa Corporate and Investment Banking.

Another major trend observed in post Covid-19 in Tanzania is that of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Fintech partnerships with local commercial banks to deliver multiple solutions with the aim of improving financial diversification and inclusion.

“For example, Absa Bank Tanzania has partnered with Tigo Tanzania and Jumo to deliver a micro lending solution dubbed Tigo Nivushe.

These trends are allowing banks to optimise their physical infrastructure and cost-to-serve,” he said.

Mr Mkuyu said further, overall, in the continent, the experts highlight, regulators are also coming to party, with the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) continuing to strongly commit in driving financial inclusion via digital banking.

The Central Bank of Kenya Governor, Dr. Patrick Njoroge said the drive towards digitization that had started before the pandemic has been the saving grace not just in financial services but also in the health, entertainment, retail, education and hospitality sectors.

“The digital banking revolution is gaining traction, for several years, banks have had to reinvent themselves to keep up with the changing competitive landscape and customer behaviors,” said Khayelihle Mthembu, Equity Analyst, South Africa Banks Research, Absa Corporate and Investment Banking.

Added Mthembu: “Over the last decade, we saw banks transition to an external bias, focusing on client experience and undertaking huge investments on large-scale transformation in support of digitization.”

“The digital banking revolution has attracted non-traditional players such as telcos, fintech and big-tech. This has meant that for banks to stay relevant and compete effectively, they must become platform organizations and embrace strategic partnerships with these non-traditional players,” he said.

Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter

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