The extent to which South Africans are embracing digital banking technology has become clear through recently-released Standard Bank statistics which show that customers conducted digital transactions worth more than R4,5-billion a month using bank-driven Internet and mobile banking applications during 2014.

To do so, the average user logged on about 20 times each month.

These figures reveal that the average Standard Bank customer is becoming increasingly active in the digital arena. People in the metropolitan areas of Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban are the quickest to adopt new banking services and applications, but usage across the country is increasingly steadily, according to Vuyo Mpako, head of innovation and channel design at Standard Bank.

“Standard Bank increased its digital and Internet offerings significantly in 2014. These enabled our customers and others to use our facilities regardless of where they bank. Subsequent to launch, Internet banking has adopted a responsive design that makes banking on all devices a seamless experience with the site adapting to the device from which it’s accessed.”

The most used functions related to ‘traditional’ banking with most people opting to use tablets or phones to:

* Make account transfers and beneficiary payments;

* Upload new beneficiaries for payment purposes; and

* Pay electricity and other prepaid purchases.

Users also demonstrated that they value app customisation. Research conducted via physical user testing and through e-mails with users indicated that:

* Users enjoy customising their dashboards and creating multiple dashboards to manage their affairs, as well as uploading pictures for each dashboard;

* They have strongly adopted the chance to pay beneficiaries without having their banking details, but simply their cellphone numbers;

* The ability to create instant money vouchers to withdraw cash from various points without using bank cards is one of the most popular options;

* Having an ‘Impulse Save’ function to save towards a specific goal or to a nominated account by clicking on a button is appreciated;

* Quick Buy functionality with pre-paid data, voice, SMS and electricity are well supported.

“Security has always been a concern to users of digital banking solutions,” says Mpako. “A recent MasterCard Online study indicated that 90% of South Africans see security as their major concern, with 42% stating that they would not shop online because of it. However, major strides in technology have positively impacted on the use of the apps and digital media transactions.”

One of the factors driving increased usage of digital payments during 2014 was the introduction of solutions that transcended “bank specific services” and the requirement that people be customers of a bank before being able to use a solution.

For Standard Bank, one of the leading indicators of this change was the SnapScan app, introduced in 2014. Less than a year after its launch, over 17 000 merchants and more than a hundred thousand users across South Africa have registered to receive and make payments using the app.