Nedbank: digital transformation of services tailored to customer needs

Nedbank: digital transformation of services tailored to customer needs

Present in six countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East Africa, Nedbank’s vast portfolio has seen the business acquire subsidiaries and banks in Namibia, Swaziland, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, as well as representative offices in Angola and Kenya. Throughout its ongoing expansion, technology has continued to challenge traditional banking services, leading Nedbank to break down barriers, overhaul its processes and take a closer look at the way customers engage with its services.

A chartered accountant by background, having audited a large number of automotive groups –such as BMW and Daimler – Dayalan Govender, Managing Executive of Nedbank Card, Payments and Transactional, entered the fast-evolving world of financial services with the aim to make a difference in an organisation that houses a strong passion for clients and embraces new ways of thinking. Appointed as Managing Executive in 2017, he has taken this objective further by seeking to reform the card and payments space and the transactional industry in South Africa, leveraging technologies and capabilities in a fundamentally different way.

“The first thing in our approach is, ‘Delivering delightful client experiences and how do we transform not just our Nedbank Card, Payments and Transactional business but also the industry? How do we reshape the industry so that we are able to provide payment and transactional solutions to clients that fast, safe, reliable, convenient and cost effective all focused on enabling clients to achieve their goals and outcomes?’ That's the first departure point that's really important to us,” he explains.

“We have two key challenges. One is around transforming the culture from an incremental mindset to an exponential disruptive mindset. The second is around digital adoption and education: once we get clients to start adopting these solutions, how do we ensure sustainability in digital adoption? What is accelerating digital adoption, not just in South Africa but globally, is that all of us live in an increasingly digitised world and we are being influenced by digital solutions in our everyday lives. The proliferation of applications that exist satisfy many of our needs that we didn’t think possible. People are being influenced by digital in many aspects of their lives and we are at a point where clients expect this from financial services.”

Trust is going to be a key requirement underpinning digital adoption. Within its Card, Payments and Transactional operations, Nedbank has therefore sought to invest in the latest authentication methods to bolster security across various digital applications to build trust and transparency. Investing in new fraud prevention mechanisms, Nedbank has gained increased awareness into fraudulent activity – something which has become a significant threat across South Africa and globally. “We are investing in tokenisation, enabling secure in store and online transactions. Behavioural biometrics is also something that we are exploring and believe it’s going to give clients a superior customer experience,” says Govender.

Accelerating digital adoption will go hand in hand with building trust, which will no doubt feed into Nedbank’s ability to scale. However, despite such efforts, customers will only utilise smart payment solutions if they are somewhat intuitive, in order to remove the fear of the unknown and fully engage with new digital services. “Far too often, there's a perception that digital is complex. Not everyone understands these digital solutions and they get paralysed when they experience a digital solution for the first time, so we have invested significantly in how we design these solutions with the client at the very heart of this,” he says,  

Since the bank launched the Nedbank Money app in 2018, the new digital platform has been met with acclaim by clients. Gaining significant traction with more than a million downloads, the app provides customers with financial access and services at the click of a button, fully empowering users and putting them in control of their finances. Harnessing a sophisticated design with ‘next level authentication’, the app enables customers to do a myriad of activities including viewing balances and statements, buy prepaid data and other value-added services, send money to a recipient or make payments to friends, family or providers.

“Nedbank also launched scan to pay within the Nedbank Money App which is the first banking app in the South Africa that allows clients to scan a Masterpass, Snapscan or Zapper QR code for making retail and utility payments. This is convenience at your fingertips that no longer requires clients to carry cards or cash.

“A number of other services in the app are extremely popular, which debit order reversals are a prime example. In South Africa, we have an issue from a customer perspective around debit order abuse,” explains Govender. “Being able to give clients control over their debit orders, where they could go through their accounts, recognise a debit order to be fraudulent or inaccurate and be able to reverse that – this has been an extremely powerful service. Also, simple things like freezing and unfreezing cards are being used by customers all over the world, especially when travelling.”

However, with such a diverse demographic, it has been imperative for Nedbank to ensure financial inclusion throughout the development of its banking applications. Based on USSD (unstructured supplementary service data) technology, Nedbank’s transactional product MobiMoney has also seen customers gain access to financial services via smartphone and feature phone, where they can deposit money into the account for free as well as send money to recipients for free. Other value-added services include purchasing prepaid electricity and more. “There have been examples of people wanting to buy prepaid electricity, they had to take transportation to get to a mall or vendor and it would cost them R60-80 to buy R100 worth of prepaid electricity. Now, it is at their fingertips and will cost next to nothing,” Govender adds.

“We are solving problems that really matter to clients and address some of these key pain points. Through this particular platform we will build a lot more services that resonate with clients. It is also a free banking account that does not attract a monthly service fee.”

Remaining aggressive in developing new digital tools and solutions for those in all walks of life, Nedbank is also set to launch a solution that is tailored to the student customer that will be truly disruptive and be the first of its kind in South Africa, as well as offer entrepreneurs with the tools and skills that they need to succeed.

Fully supporting customers beyond traditional banking services, Nedbank’s partnership with Hey Jude has even seen the bank integrate a new lifestyle solution into the Nedbank Money app for ease and simplicity. The solution works to enable customers to book travel services, obtain support for finding various services, and much more. “From travel to household requirements, the app will find you a service provider that meets your needs and is testament to the focus on client experience and enabling client outcomes,” notes Govender.

However, with the rise of hyperpersonalised services, data will become a key differentiator in delivering relevant services to clients including merchants. Nedbank’s end-to-end business management solution, POSplus, provides advanced data analytics and enhances a business’ presence not only in ecommerce, but to gain a significant growth in the physical environment. “This innovation and solution allows business and business owners; especially small business services and entrepreneurs to focus more on growing and running their business, as opposed to managing multiple vendors and other distractions within their environment.”

Successfully reaching R125bn (US$8.8bn) market capitalisation throughout its operations is no easy feat, but building strong partnerships has remained key to Nedbank’s upward trajectory in supporting 8mn clients across Africa and beyond. Recently, the bank’s alliance with pan-African banking conglomerate Ecobank Transnational Inc has seen Nedbank cater to the growing for cross border remittance solutions in Africa.

Additionally, by effectively embracing collaboration to bring solutions to life, Nedbank’s partnership with FEXCO has seen the business harness its global, dynamic currency conversion solution for customers visiting South Africa, and pay for services in their home currency. “We've leveraged FEXCO’s expertise and capability, which gives our merchants the ability to offer tourists coming to South Africa a value-add by paying in their home currency, where they don’t have to experience the volatility in the currency or the exchange rate,” explains Govender.

Long term, looking at the future of Nedbank and its position in South Africa, Govender believes a flood of new opportunities are set to be unlocked as the country undergoes significant regulatory change. The Financial Sector Conduct Authority and Prudential Authority are set to be located in the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), which will provide jurisdiction over all financial institutions. This, he explains, will enable the ongoing transformation of financial services and the delivery of further advantages in terms of interacting, servicing as well as delivering innovative  value propositions.

“Enabling regulations are going to be key in achieving the reserve bank’s vision for 2025 which is tackling some of the social issues that we have in South Africa,” he says.

“The move could also unlock trade, growth and create employment. The informal sector in South Africa facilitates huge amounts of economic activity but it's fundamentally based on cash. How do we, through regulation, also go and solve facilitating trade and entrepreneurship? That’s where we're going to see a significant amount of transformation take place over the coming years in South Africa.”

Housing an exponential and disruptive mindset, Nedbank has transformed its capabilities to deliver solutions that are convenient, secure and scalable. With Govender certain that the finance industry in South Africa will become wholly digitally led, data will support decision making and provide key insights into the way customers engage beyond banking services, as well as provide essential insights which will fundamentally change the way in which financial institutions design and bring solutions to market. Fully revolutionising its corporate culture to think more innovatively and client centered, as well as adapt a commercially savvy mindset, Nedbank will continue to place significant investment in its people and new exponential technologies to take banking services in South Africa into a whole new era.