Banking in The Digital Era

By Charles Mhina, Head of Transactional Products and Services at Stanbic Bank Tanzania.

Charles Mhina Stanbic TanzaniaNew disruptive technologies are changing the way we do banking in Tanzania and the rest of Africa.

Gone are the days of long queues and waiting times on the phone for simple inquiries such as checking your account balance. The world is firmly entrenched in the digital era not only through innovations in social networks but across all sectors from health to financial services.

The digital revolution began in the late 1950s and has advanced significantly in the 21st century where in the banking sector customers have round-the-clock access to their accounts thanks to the advancements in technology. The change in the way people do their banking has been a game changer that has provided tailor-made solutions that cater to the life of the individual.

In Tanzania, the advantages of the digitization have simplified the lives of business owners, employees, and customers. Similarly, gone are the days when employees would be issued their salaries in the form of cheques; a direct deposit and notification via sms or email alerts employees that their pay has been credited to their account. Additionally, customers no longer have to carry bags of money when shopping as transacting has been made easier by simply swiping a card which comes with the added advantage of convenience and enhanced security for the customer.

This digital transformation has also improved the service delivery by banks and reduced human error. For instance, the updated Stanbic Bank mobile application addresses the frequent error made by customers when sending money to beneficiaries. Whereas in the past one would have to input the beneficiary’s telephone number, the upgraded app allows one to pick the number directly from the address/phone book, thereby eliminating the chance of inputting a wrong beneficiary number.

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The digital disruption has arrived at the right time in Tanzania with the increase in mobile penetration and mobile wallet holders. Stanbic Bank, through its Mobile Bulk Payments offering, allows organizations to make online payments from their Stanbic accounts to multiple mobile wallets including Mpesa, Tigo Pesa, Airtel Money, and Ezypesa at the press of a button anytime, anywhere.

In addition, the bank’s Till to Bank offering also allows business account holders to accept Mpesa, TigoPesa and Airtel money payments from their customers through a formal Till number and funds can instantly be directed to their Stanbic Bank accounts.

To date, much of the Tanzanian growth narrative has revolved around population migration into urban centers. As young and new urban population access finance and consumer goods in the country’s rapidly expanding metropoles, new opportunities, markets and industries develop. If the growth that this trend has driven could be replicated amongst Africa’s vast rural population – through the provision of innovative banking services, Tanzania’s growth potential gets significantly bigger and much more sustainable.

New technologies are set to expand access to reach rural areas. This holds the potential to include the rural population in meaningful economic participation, sustaining the Tanzanian growth narrative for generations to come.

The good thing about all this change is that it catalyzes financial inclusion. While the financial sector is being disrupted by new technologies, this disruption, if managed correctly, presents exciting opportunities for the Tanzanian economy and people.