So you are rigorous with your budgeting and you already have a sensible savings plan? With July being National Savings Month in South Africa, it might be the right time to consider taking the next step in your savings journey.

It’s time to ensure that you are moving your money around in the most cost-effective way possible. There are a variety of banking channels available and it is important to understand them in order to make them work for you in ways that can truly enhance your savings.

Vuyo Mpako, head of Digital Channels and eCommerce at Standard Bank, advises that the most expensive way to move money around is to deal in cash. “It costs you every time you withdraw money – either from a branch or an ATM.”

So rule number one is to try and eliminate cash by using banking channels and facilities that allow you to transfer and transact with your money electronically.

Most well-known of these, of course, are online and cellphone banking solutions. However there is a range of other options available too, that will enable you to transfer money without having to deal with actual banknotes.

“At Standard Bank, we’re aiming for a cashless, paperless environment to allow customers to make payments inexpensively and conveniently,” says Mpako. “We therefore offer customers alternative channels they can use instead of having to rely on a branch or an ATM.”

How do these help you save? You don’t pay to use alternative banking channels – there are no subscription fees – and they also help you to save on transport costs to get to the nearest branch. Apart from savings, these channels also offer the added benefits of giving customers anytime, anywhere banking options and greater security.

“You are not reliant on banking hours, won’t get stuck in queues and you don’t have to compromise your safety by carrying large sums of cash,” says Mpako.

Standard Bank strives to put the customer first and many of its innovative new channels have come about as a result of really listening to what customers want. – including a new online banking site, and a sophisticated mobile smartphone and tablet app.
Standard Bank’s app for tablets is transforming mobile banking and the way that customers experience banking. It is all about allowing you to dictate functionality and customise the app according to your needs, rather than having the app dictating to you what should be prioritised.

It allows you to better manage your money by providing a single-view platform. Customers can access their business and personal accounts as well as insurance, wealth management and stockbroking activities in one go, all on the same easy-to-navigate screen.

“We are always working to simplify banking for our customers,” says Mpako. “This app makes it easier for you to understand your spending habits; to see where your money is going. It therefore empowers you to better manage your own money. It’s really about changing the way people think about banking.”

The innovative ImpulseSave feature of the app enables you to set your own savings target, while a graphic dashboard shows you how close you are to achieving it. “If you’re saving for something special, you now have the capability to put money away whenever you can and actually watch your savings grow,” says Mpako. “This is a feature we intend incorporating into all our apps going forward.”

All these innovations are there to help you. It’s worth getting to know your options so that you can choose your channels wisely to avoid unnecessary fees and make your savings work even harder for you.