Banking technology helps Absa scoop major awards

Absa once again achieved international excellence in Retail Financial Services by innovating with sophisticated technology for an enhanced customer experience.

March 23, 2012

Absa once again achieved international excellence in Retail Financial Services by innovating with sophisticated technology for an enhanced customer experience.

Absa’s ability to deliver to its customers was rewarded when the bank scooped three awards at the 2012 Asian Banker’s International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards ceremony in Singapore today.

This year Absa walked away with the Best Retail Bank in Africa, Best Retail Bank in South Africa and Best Credit Card Management awards.

Administered by The Asian Banker and adjudicated by prominent global bankers, consultants and academics, the awards provide a benchmark for the performance of the best retail banks in this competitive marketplace.

Largely attributable to Absa’s Retail Banking success, Absa demonstrated solid financial performance amid tough economic conditions, where Retail Banking continues to make a strong contribution towards the Group’s overall earnings, increasing by 33% to R4,179bn as at 31 December 2011.

Absa Chief Executive for Retail and Business Banking, Bobby Malabie attributes the bank’s accolades to significant progress with its customer-focused strategic journey.

“Furthermore, Absa’s focus on innovation and the ownership of the largest branch and ATM footprint in South Africa can also be cited as key reasons for the bank remaining accessible to all customer segments – from the previously unbanked to the multi-banked sophisticated customer,” he said.

Arrie Rautenbach, Absa’s Head of Absa Retail Markets, adds: “We have a multi-channel approach, where the customer can decide their primary interaction with us whether it is personal interaction at a branch, digital contact or access through our contact centre. In this approach we are taking self-service and digitalisation to a new level, from expanded functionality on mobile banking to innovations on ATMs. Ultimately, it’s about affording our customers more choice and making banking more accessible to them.”

Underpinning Absa’s success is an alliance with Vodacom which has enabled more affordable access to cellphone banking by scrapping the airtime fees required to access Absa‘s Cellphone Lite service. It is now easier for customers to check balances, request mini-statements, top-up on airtime or electricity, and make CashSend™ payments.

Absa Bank has also maintained its position as a market leader in the payments segment, taking contactless and mobile payment solutions to new heights by being the first to market low-value payments contactless prepaid cards. Through the Absa-Vodacom alliance, the bank is also first in the South African market to pilot a One Touch product, a Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled mobile phone which serves as a payment device.

Absa also pioneered an innovative mobile app to enable immediate remote account opening, allowing sales consultants to open bank accounts and issue debit cards to new customers in less than 10 minutes.

“This innovative use of mobile technology allows us to extend our reach in many of South Africa’s most poorly serviced areas from a banking perspective, thereby enabling greater numbers of our population to access the formal economy and all the associated benefits of having a bank account,” says Rautenbach.

This year more than 160 retail financial institutions from the Asia Pacific, Central Asia, the Gulf region and Africa were assessed in the Asian Banker’s awards for their efforts in bringing superior products and services to their customers.

“We are very pleased to be named as the winners of what has become the most prestigious, comprehensive and anticipated Awards Programme that recognises the pursuit of excellence among retail financial institutions,” says Rautenbach.

Absa’s 2012 awards follow on last year’s success when Absa won the Best Retail Bank in South Africa and Best Mobile Phone Banking (International) categories.