Banking now goes high-tech with unmanned services

Standard Chartered Bank head of digital banking East Africa Edward Ndichu demonstrates how the Electronic Banking Unit dubbed ‘Breeze @ The Junction’ works during its launch last week. Photo/DIANA NGILA
Standard Chartered Bank head of digital banking East Africa Edward Ndichu demonstrates how the Electronic Banking Unit dubbed ‘Breeze @ The Junction’ works during its launch last week. Photo/DIANA NGILA  

Standard Chartered Bank customers no longer need to endure long queues to access financial services after the lender opened a digital branch last week that offers unmanned banking services.

Dubbed ‘[email protected] The Junction’, the electronic banking unit provides all the banking solutions available at traditional branches, but through online and mobile banking as wells as intelligent ATMs.

The units are fitted with iPads, personal computers, touch screens mounted on walls, and free wireless Internet; allowing customers to carry out transactions on their own.

Patrons take charge of their own banking needs - deposit and withdraw money, make telegraphic transfers, set up standing orders, request for cheque book, pay utility bills and download account statements without intervention from a teller.

“We are offering our customers a hassle-free banking with no tellers and a cashless environment other than the ATMs; giving customers a digital self-service banking experience,” said Bhartesh Shah, StanChart’s head of digital banking in Africa.

“Customers visiting the branch are registered instantly to mobile or online banking and get assistance on how to transact their business using the intelligent ATMs, mobile phone or the Internet.”

Digital branches

Located on the first floor of the Junction shopping mall on Ngong Road, the digital branch targets tech savvy customers who are looking for a fulfilling banking experience.

“We are using technology to make it more convenient for our customers,” says Shah.

StanChart plans to open two more such digital branches – in the diplomatic suburb of Gigiri and along the Thika Superhighway – by the end of the year.

‘Breeze bar’ is a section of the tech savvy branch that features three iPads mounted on a table. Here, customers can log in and punch away all their banking services.

The two wall mounted touch screens resemble enlarged mobile phone screens. Your mobile phone is your ticket to access all mobile banking offerings such as balance enquiry, airtime top-up, M-Pesa, paying utility bills, funds transfer and getting a mini statement.

Enhanced services such as loan top up requests and credit card requests can be made via m-banking.

“We have made mobile banking free. Mobile phones are becoming an integral part of offering financial services in Kenya,” the bank explained.

StanChart customers receive instant SMS alerts every time a transaction is carried out in their accounts such as withdrawals, cheque clearing, online banking transactions and credit card dealings.

A different section of the lobby has two touch screen PCs that also use a mouse and keyboard. Just like the ‘breeze bar’, consumers do all their banking online.

StanChart customers from its other global markets can also seamlessly carry out their banking from the digital branch. This means travelling business executives visiting Kenya can do all their banking from Nairobi.

The three touch screen ATMs at the [email protected] The Junction accept direct cash and cheque deposit, foreign exchange, mobile money such as M-Pesa, credit card transactions and multi-currency processing.

“Cash deposited via these ATMs is credited in real time,” says Edward Ndichu, the bank’s head of digital banking in East Africa.


StanChart plans to modify all its 38 branches to have electronic banking lobbies and upgrade its network of 97 ATMs countrywide to be ‘smart’ in order to perform additional functions.

The ATM section of the banking lobby is open 24/7 while other sections operate longer working hours - 9am to 8pm weekdays and 10 am to 6 pm on weekends.

There’s free Wi-Fi at the Junction branch, so account holders can pop in with their smartphone, tablet or laptops and access their accounts, hangout in social media platforms and shop online. Because online banking is prone to fraud, the bank says it has invested heavily in upping its security systems.

“We use a combination of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol and passwords to protect customer information. In addition, stronger authentication is used as appropriate to particular markets.”

One common scheme to swindle Internet bankers is phising, a process by which Internet users are lured into revealing personal information such as usernames, passwords, account information by creating a site similar to the bank’s.

“To protect yourself, always type in your address bar every time you access online banking and do not access online banking via any links provided in an email sent to you as this may be a phishing attempt,” StanChart says.

“You should always be wary if you receive unsolicited emails or calls asking you to disclose any personal details or card numbers. This information should be kept secret at all times.

“Be cautious about disclosing personal information to individuals you do not know and also be wary of disclosing any information through the phone.”