Opinion / 17 September 2019, 11:00am / Gwenaël Trotel
JOHANNESBURG – Around the world there is growing, collective consensus that digital disruptions will continue as old ways of doing business are fast being ditched, and new ways are being adapted across industries.
Industries such transport, accommodation, print media, television and dining, have all seen disruptions that were not really expected to take off at such speed two decades ago. Now these industries are playing catch up, with some winning and others struggling to keep their heads above the water.
What has been noteworthy is the advent of the democratisation of payment innovation that allows a welcomed development of more participation in the digital world. The change digitisation has brought to banking is now seeing customers not needing to carry their cards with them, but can easily and conveniently pay with their mobile phones.
That’s what it has come to around the world, and markets across Africa are taking to this technology. More merchants are attracting tech-savvy customers and are open to this development and implementing it in their businesses.
In retail shops, customers can now pay using the tap and pay technology, either using their smart phones or smart watches. The guiding message here for both the customer and the merchant is that there is convenience, flexibility, and control in terms of security. For instance, when you regularly pay with your smart watch, should you take it off your wrist, the re-entering of the password will be required if you need to make purchases again.
When it comes to payments in technology, the development in bettering the infrastructure is continuous and global.
Given, there will be sceptics who are wary of the security of such payments. The security of payments is still a major issue of concern across Africa. Though e-commerce is picking up in South Africa and the rest of the continent, most consumers still demand reassurances when it comes to their personal identities and how their online banking is secured.
Nonetheless, there is now the ubiquitous and affordable availability of digital services, that are accessible and cheaper. This is a development that now allows debit card customers to shop online for cheaper items, like buying a R1 song, and not needing a credit card to participate in the digital economy.
Other matters of concern to consumers are delivery and returns, spend control and how best to manage dependents with access to their cards. These are the kind of concerns the e-commerce industry and banks are speedily attending to, so that the minuscule percentage of those who shop online is increased. The checkout page has to be more than reassuring.
With consumers taking advantage of the online shopping eco-system, there has been a spike in this kind of shopping. Customers are increasingly looking for affordable deals, convenience and less hassles when doing their shopping.
The reality is that both young and old are now spending more time than ever before on their mobile phones, computers and tablets and demand real time responses from services they rely on. This is our reality, and businesses must adapt to meet the expectations of modern consumers.
Banking has been significantly influenced by this trend. Today, more consumers engage with financial institutions online than in person. As such, banks have evolved by driving innovation in connected spaces, enabling customers to do more wherever they are.
Today’s technology is saying to us, if it’s not on your phone, it does not exist. Technology has now enveloped us from mobile first, to mobile only. With the introduction of digital services, banks are seeing less visits in their branches, and more engagement through mobile phones.
A digitally transformed bank, with the foundations of trust, legacy and reputation, will always be more competitive and relevant than a new entrant.
Gwenaël Trotel is Standard Bank’s head of payments digitisation & open banking.