While most banks now offer cell phone banking, Standard Bank also added a range of creative services which anyone with a WAP-enabled cell phone can access via their new Standardbank.mobi site.
.mobi means users can access the internet site from your phone via GPRS. The Mobile Channel at Standard Bank thought hard to bring features to their .mobi site that would specifically aid people on the move.
"Instead of simply replicating our .co.za site, we tried to think about the kind of things that would make sense for a mobile site, especially those relating to convenience and ease of use," says Charles Street, head: mobile channel self-service banking at Standard Bank.
"We didn't want to bog the site down with too much information about all our products and services," says Street, "Instead, we see the site as the first step in getting familiar with the bank, applying for a home loan, finding out where our branches are located. The content on the site is user-friendly for smaller mobile screens. It is straight to the point, and provides the user with guidance on how to get any further information they may require from us."
Cell phone banking for Standard Bank customers has been couched inside this .mobi site, but now there is so much more to it than just banking.
"Most South Africans have a cell phone," says Street, "Now people who previously had limited access to our online services can reach these from their phones. We intend to set up an information portal including answers to frequently asked questions. This means that people who may not have the time to stop by at the bank and ask some questions will be able to get the answers they require wherever they are."
According to Street, going forward, this site provides a huge opportunity to give people access to the bank as well as several other complementary services to keep people coming back, such as regular updates about sporting events like the Standard Bank Pro 20 Series Cricket.
The site already boasts some exciting services. For example, it is now possible for a person banking with Standard Bank, and in fact for anyone who is curious to see how it works, to use the Locate Me function to get directions to the nearest ATM or branch.
Similar to GPS technology, the Locate Me function on Standardbank.mobi is based on LBS (Location Based Services) which identifies the estimated location of the handset. Although not as accurate as GPS, the service, currently provided by Vodacom, but MTN are set to follow soon, can be creatively implemented in .mobi sites to direct users to designated places of interest. Standard Bank is the first to mobilize this innovation to guide users to their ATMs and branches, and will appeal to people in need of cash, fast.
A second novel feature on Standardbank.mobi is the Home Loan Calculator. This service helps people calculate how much they can afford on a home loan or how much they can expect to pay as monthly installments. Even for those who don't bank with Standard Bank, the Home Loan Calculator can be a useful guide when searching for property or when making offers to purchase. The Home Loan Calculator sms'es the results back to the user for free, and the service enables the users to request the bank to contact them to initiate the home loan application process.
With cell phone banking on standardbank.mobi, customers can obtain balance enquiries and mini-statements, perform inter-account transfers, make third party payments and buy pre-paid airtime from all cellular networks. Standardbank.mobi guarantees secure transactions and does not store banking information on the phone.