Choosing a bank is a pretty important decision, so I guess that’s why I see the question popping up on Facebook so often. You only have to read the comments to see that there’s no real consensus on which bank comes out on top.
Then again, we’ve already discussed how there’s really not much difference between any of the country’s ‘Big Five’ banks. They’re all promising X, Y and Z, but at the end of the day, nobody can deliver the kind of service we deserve.
I have no interest in heading into an actual, physical banking branch, and I’m not alone there. My generation doesn’t even want to answer their own cellphone when it rings, so you can scratch standing in a queue right off the list.
That means that I put a premium on mobile banking and digital banking, and I’ve also heard virtual banking being thrown around. At this point we should probably clarify what each of those actually means, because there are a few important distinctions to be made.
Most traditional banks offer a banking app that you can download to your phone. Once you’ve gone into your closest bank branch to link the mobile banking app to your bank account, you can use it to complete basic transactions – like EFTing money, checking your balance, and buying airtime or electricity.
This is mobile banking or cellphone banking.
Mobile banking has been available in South Africa since 2011, but in the last seven years, cellphone banking has not evolved much in terms of its capabilities. Cellphone banking has given us a taste of how banking can fit into our on-the-go lifestyles, but there are limitations which mean branch visits, queues and paperwork are still a reality.
Digital Banking, online banking or internet banking has been around for more than two decades now. The earliest form of internet banking was logging into your bank account through a bank’s website to complete transactions. Before there were mobile banking apps on our phones, this was the only way to access a bank account digitally.
The game has changed significantly since then.
Digital Banking is now a term used to describe any banking activities that are completed using a digital device – whether it’s a desktop computer or a mobile banking app. People save online using saving apps, pay for their coffee by scanning a code, and companies pay their staff with app internet banking.
These are all forms of digital banking.
So far, so good, but this brings us to the third category – Virtual Banking. I’ll tell you why I’m keen – no branches, no paperwork, no queues, and all of those are good news for customers.
Take Bettr, for example, who are soon to be unleashed on the market – the entire bank exists online. To open a bank account, you will need to download the mobile banking app. By submitting your details and completing the security checks, you are assigned your virtual account.
Your card, linked to your virtual account, is delivered to your door, and you’re ready to start virtual banking.
There are many benefits to virtual banking. For starters, many of the costs that a traditional bank have are eliminated. There are no buildings that need to be rented, maintained and manned. Many of the processes – from opening an account to freezing a lost card – can be done through the app without support.
These savings mean the customer saves, as Bettr won’t need account fees to cover these expenses. Virtual banking also gives account holders control of their money anytime, anywhere.
During each step of the development process, which is nearing completion, Bettr have enlisted the help of everyday South Africans, finding out what they want from a bank, and building that into their systems.
If you want to know where banking in this country is headed – well, you’re looking at it.
No more sky-high account fees, no more painful cold calls offering new account features, no more waiting in queue to sign a stack of papers when you’d rather be anywhere else in the world.
Sign me up.
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