Women closing the gap on adopting digital banking channels: Absa

The gender gap on adopting digital banking tools has narrowed slightly.

August 28, 2012

The gender gap on adopting digital banking tools has narrowed slightly, according to the Absa Digital Banking unit’s latest analysis of customer behaviour. This reveals an optimistic outlook for the economic development of women.

“The profile of the average digital banker is still biased towards the characteristics of the early core group of mostly young, male and well-educated individuals. However, women are slowly closing that gap.” says Arrie Rautenbach, Absa’s Head of Retail Markets.

He indicated that the latter trend had positive implications for broader financial inclusion and the development of women from an economic perspective.

“Our current digital base consists of a slightly off-balanced split of 53% male and 47% female customers suggesting that women are trailing men in electronic-banking adoption,” continues Rautenbach.

He said cellphone banking was among the most popular banking channels being utilised by female customers.

“With a wide range of transactional and enquiry services that are now available via cellphone banking, it is no surprise that everyday more female customers are realising the convenience, simplicity and cost-effectiveness of banking on their mobile phones,” he adds.

Rautenbach believes that recent cellphone banking innovations, like enabling customers to apply for and receive a loan in just 10 minutes for instance, will continue to drive further migration to this channel.

Absa’s domestic money transfer service, CashSend, and the bank’s SMS alert service, NotifyMe, have also proven to be extremely successful with the bank’s female cellphone banking customers.

“We expect this momentum to continue rising steadily,” adds Rautenbach.

He says while others argue that men are more likely to use electronic banking channels than women, some insights from a recent Capgemini “Digital Shopper Relevancy” research report found that digitally savvy women enthusiastically embrace digital communication. The survey found that women turn out to be more active users of digital tools than men suggesting greater appetite among women to be more transacting savvy.

Rautenbach says the trend towards closing the digital gender divide could simulate the pattern of gender empowerment on financial decisions.

“Digital banking is crucial for female entrepreneurs and business people. It gives women a new way to save money, transfer money, process small financial transactions and receive credit from micro-finance initiatives.”

He adds: “As our female customer base has become increasingly more sophisticated, we continue to endeavour to invest substantial human capital and finances into retail banking technology and innovation.”

Absa has about 1.2-million and 3.7-million internet and cellphone banking customers respectively. Rautenbach says it would be important to remain a strong market leader in the digital banking space in line with customer needs and trends.