Absa Bank Kenya on Tuesday launched WhatsApp banking solutions that allow customers access to some of the popular digital transactions such as mobile money transfers, inter-account transfers, bill payments, balance inquiries.
The innovation is a response to how digital banking has evolved in the past few years in a bid to open up new ways for banks to engage with and provide services to their customers, including through social media channels such as WhatsApp.
Speaking during the launch of the service, Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori lauded the move as a demonstration of the bank’s commitment to continue investing in digitally-led innovative solutions that have the potential to significantly transform the customer experience.
The bank, in February 2021 announced that it was committing to invest at least Ksh 1.6 billion towards digitalization, automation, and innovation.
“This solution 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,” said Awori.
The banking solution features a secure, smart, digital assistant called Abby that helps customers transact through the app around the clock.
Through Abby, Absa Bank Kenya is creating an open ecosystem and technology multipliers that are unlocking new efficiencies, and customers increasingly expect money to flow the same way other information does in their lives — effortlessly.
WhatsApp banking features an incredible financial functionality that is becoming a native component of the technology stack. It represents a growing opportunity for embedded fintech rather than pure fintech, and Absa has realized it is best to embrace rather than fight an inevitable trend.
WhatsApp Banking was first seen in Africa when Absa Group introduced it in South Africa. It features a WhatsApp Business API that allows developers to connect third-party systems with the app.
The chatbot layer manages the communication between the user and the banking system, thus providing two basic types of interaction: simple, selecting a preset option during the chat; and complex, using AI to understand the conversation.
Insecurity terms, WhatsApp requires a unique phone number and encrypts the communication. On the bank’s side, sensitive information is protected with passwords. The technology is easy to use, and it expands the number of people who can carry out banking functions like payments, transfers, statement queries, and many others.
“We have installed a multi-layered approach from the security perspective. Firstly, all traffic between the phone, WhatsApp, and the back end is fully encrypted. The second layer of security is around registration. When we register a customer, we look at the cellphone number, we analyze whether it has been SIM-swapped or not and make sure that the registered cellphone number is tied to the customer’s profile at Absa,” commented Mr. Awori on the security of the new banking solution.
The introduction of WhatsApp banking by Absa ushers the sector into the new age of banking which integrates transactional, conversational, and personalized banking services in a seamless, fast and reliable way. This proposition transitions chatbots from being just a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) service to a holistic banking interface that is intuitive.
WhatsApp banking also reduces customer acquisition costs. It simplifies customer journeys and is likely to boost customer loyalty and engagement due to the convenience and pre-existing familiarity with the app.
According to 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 per cent of all internet users in the country active on WhatsApp. This presents a unique opportunity for Absa to accelerate the digital adoption of its wide array of services.
If you want to try Absa Bank Kenya’s WhatsApp banking solution, you can register by following these steps:
- Save Abby’s number 0710 130 000 as a contact on your cell phone.
- Open WhatsApp and search for Abby in your contact list
- Say ‘Hello’ to register to follow the steps to start transacting.