Columnists

Digital banking post-pandemic

BANKING-TECH

The importance of digitalisation in banking cannot be overstated. FILE PHOTO

The importance of digitalisation in banking cannot be overstated, as it catalyses a paradigm shift towards a more accessible, responsive, and customer-centric financial ecosystem. The world is becoming increasingly digital, epitomised by the onset of intelligent banking solutions.

By leveraging cutting-edge technology, innovative banking empowers customers with unprecedented convenience in managing their finances.

One of the significant disruptions the Covid-19 pandemic wrought on our lives was the migration of most goods and services onto digital platforms. The banking sector observed substantial shifts.

The Kenya Bankers Association encouraged banks and their users to go cash-light after the pandemic through debit cards, mobile banking, and internet banking.

The crisis forced rapid adaptation, and the migration to digital platforms became a survival strategy for financial institutions.

As we emerge from the pandemic, this digital transformation is not merely a short-term response to a crisis, but a long-term evolution that promises to reshape the banking landscape.

Beyond basic transactions, smart banking services encompass a spectrum of features, including fund transfers, balance inquiries, bill payments, and even the creation of personalised budgets.

As a result, digitisation in banking doesn't merely streamline processes; it fosters financial literacy and autonomy, placing control squarely in the hands of the users in an era where connectivity and mobility are paramount.

However, suitable structures are needed to ensure customer satisfaction regarding digital financial services, and banks need to ensure they are providing customers with excellent smart banking solutions.

Incorporating the right partners, products, and technological capabilities is necessary to deliver a differentiated and compelling value proposition in seeking to meet changing customer demands.

In rethinking digital financial solutions, banks need to offer more in the way of fund accessibility. The Kenya Bankers Association found that mobile banking was the most preferred channel in 2021 at 58.4 percent, up from 52 percent the year before.

This follows Kenyans' high proliferation of mobile phones and their increasing inclination to use mobile banking solutions.

An innovative banking solution should provide services despite your preferred mobile provider, location, or time. Furthermore, despite being able to offer complex solutions, the preferred digital banking platforms should remain user-friendly with an intuitive user interface.

A mark of innovation is that digital financial services should be accessible irrespective of gadget choices, and users should be able to access their cash on the go, whether through smartphone apps or USSD banking. It should also feature exceptional in-app customer support.

In addition, deposit and savings accounts are often an entry point for other financial products such as investment accounts and loans. A digital banking app must make expanding your relationship with your financial institution and growing assets easy.

Therefore, a robust digital banking platform capable of integrating a broad range of first, second and third-party sources to expand its services menu is integral to the banking sector's future.

The role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in shaping the future of banking cannot be overstated. AI has already begun transforming the financial industry in various ways, from fraud detection to personalised financial advice. AI has already transformed our financial lives in myriad ways.

AI can analyze vast amounts of data to detect unusual patterns and potential fraud, enhancing the security of digital transactions. It can also provide personalized financial insights, helping users make informed decisions about their investments and savings.

Moreover, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can offer round-the-clock customer support, making it easier for customers to get the help they need when they need it.

There has been an accelerated post-pandemic digital transformation across the banking industry. Smart banking solutions have become the new norm, offering customers a wide range of digital services that promote convenience, financial literacy, and control over their finances.

Banks must continue to innovate, focusing on customer satisfaction and expanding their digital offerings to remain competitive in the evolving financial landscape.

The future of banking is now, and it has and will continue to have more tech experts than tellers. Artificial intelligence has already transformed our financial lives in myriad ways.

The future of the banking industry belongs to institutions that leverage their vast, largely untapped digital opportunities to deliver increasingly intelligent, efficient, and personalized customer services.

The writer is the Head of Personal Banking at Stanbic Bank.