Kenya’s Absa Bank has launched a new solution that allows its customers to access their bank accounts and transact via WhatsApp, as part of their committed to invest at least Sh1.6 billion this year towards digitization, automation and innovation.
The bank says the solution, a first in the market, will allow Absa customers to conduct some of the most popular digital transactions in the market.
These include account-to-Mpesa/Airtel Money transfers, inter-account transfers, bill payments, balance enquiry, among others, on WhatsApp.
Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said that the move is a demonstration of the bank’s commitment to continue investing in digitally led innovative solutions that have the potential to significantly transform customer experience.
“This is a really exciting moment for us at Absa not just because this solution is first-in-market, but more so because it will significantly transform the way our customers interact with us. Essentially, we are transforming banking from being a series of complex transactions into a simple conversation on WhatsApp. We have shaped a rich history as a bank of many firsts and today we are excited to continue on this streak of innovation,” said Awori.
Data by the Global Web Index’s 2020 Social Media User Trends Report, Kenya has the highest percentage of monthly WhatsApp users compared to the rest of the world, with about 97 percent of all internet users in the country active on WhatsApp.
Awori added that the development presents a unique opportunity for Absa to accelerate digital adoption of its wide array of services.
The bank says the introduction of WhatsApp banking ushers the sector into the new age of banking which integrates transactional, conversational and personalized banking services in a seamless, fast and reliable way.
The Managing Director added that the digital platform will gauge and anticipate customers’ needs and requests based on its Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and analytics capabilities and consequently offer multiple solutions through core systems and delivery platforms within the bank.
“With this solution, each of our customers gets access to a 24/7 digital personal banker who can help them perform transactions upon receiving simple instructions on chat. So, the same way one would call their Relationship Manager or go to the branch to initiate a transaction, now you will just need to issue instructions by chatting on WhatsApp,” Awori said.
Kenya’s adoption of digital services
The launch comes amidst a finding by Dalberg indicating that 84 percent of Kenyans say that digital devices and services have improved the daily lives, while nearly one third said that it had boosted their incomes.
According to the study, 94 percent of Kenyans use mobile money and 27 percent use e-governance services.
Another 45 percent say they anticipate that the Huduma Namba will improve access to and usage of digital services.
It also confirms that Kenyans who are geographically, financially, or socially vulnerable are more likely to use only basic digital services–like sending and receiving payment on their mobile phones or topping up air-time.
“The study reveals that access to hands-on support is critical in helping Kenyans deepen their use of some digital services. 81 percent of e-governance users have used Huduma Centres for support,” it says.
It also reveals that 40 percent of e-commerce platform users reported challenges in receiving deliveries due to lack of precise street addresses and logistics complications.
The finding also notes that efforts to address digital safety concerns are becoming an increasingly important factor in supporting Kenyans’ embrace of digital services.
As such, the report notes that many Kenyans are concerned about digital fraud and 30 percent report they have experienced it.
“71 percent of small business owners and self-employed people say concerns about digital fraud limit their usage of digital services for business,” the report adds.
The report was based on responses to a nationally representative survey conducted between November-December 2020 of more than 2400 Kenyans.