Absa has become the first South African bank to register 1-million cellphone banking clients, nine years after launching the service for the first time.

Absa was the first South African bank to introduce cellphone banking services in 2000. Over the last few years there has been a surge in uptake, with up to 5 000 new clients registering for the service – which carries no monthly fees – each day.
It becomes one of very few banks in the world to reach the 1-million user milestone.
“From observing the registration and usage numbers, 2009 will be the year in which cellphone banking develops serious traction in the market such that it is poised to overtake the number of Absa Internet Banking clients this year,” notes Christo Vrey, managing executive of Absa Digital Channels.
The US-based Online Banking Report suggests this trend will continue around the globe. In a recent report it stated: “We believe mobile will surpass all delivery channels by the end of the next decade to become the most heavily used way to interact with your financial institution.”
There are 1,7-million logons to Absa’s cellphone banking services each month, adds Vrey.
Cellphone banking from Absa is provided across three different technological platforms – secure SMS, mobile WAP Internet and USSD – catering for different customer segment needs.
Wherever they may be in South Africa or in the rest of the world, customers can load beneficiaries and make payments, purchase airtime, make inter-account transfers, view balances and statements, send notices of payments, and make cardless ATM payments using Absa’s CashSend facility.
“For some clients, it is a convenient substitute for other methods of banking when travelling around; and for others – particularly those living in more remote areas – it is their primary method of accessing their banking service,” Vrey explains.
Added to this, more than 40 000 small businesses are currently using Absa cellphone banking.
The most popular type of cellphone banking transactions are balance enquiries, mini-statements and prepaid top-ups, notes Vrey, adding that usage tends to rise sharply in the holiday month of December, when many clients enjoy the convenience of being able to bank while on holiday or when travelling.
“Taking into account the clients that receive account notification messages and logon authentication alerts via their cellphone, the total number of Absa clients using their cellphone to keep in touch with their bank is now over four million,” he says.
The bank’s strategy of layered innovative mobile services, to assist with the building of customer confidence in the mobile device as a financial services tool, is finally paying dividends, he adds.
Absa expects the strong adoption rate to continue growing rapidly.