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Overcoming the fear of digital banking

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Despite South African banks being at the forefront of digitalisation when it comes to their service offerings, many customers are still reluctant to take advantage of these due to certain barriers and misconceptions.
A case in point is FNB which says that although it has seen a 33% increase in the number of its customers earning less than R300 000 per annum using the FNB Banking App, some in this segment are still wary of new technology.
Ryan Prozesky, CEO of Value Banking Solutions at FNB says, though, that when engaging customers about the benefits of cellphone, online and app banking, the bank found that once customers understand the benefits and trial digital banking, they are much more receptive to these technological advancements.
“Feedback received from customers enlightened us to the need for further education and to demonstrate the endless benefits and solutions provided by digital banking channels. One of the primary benefits being the cost saving and convenience of being able to bank anywhere at any time,” he adds.
Below, Prozesky unpacks some of the misconceptions and barriers that prevent this market from banking digitally:
• Lack of exposure and knowledge – given the virtual nature of digital banking channels, customers are largely uncertain as to how they work, how to access or set them up, as well as what they can do on digital channels.
The lack of exposure and knowledge requires the banking industry to drive education to empower and equip consumers to unlock the benefits of digital banking.  • Established behaviour – while some customers are aware of digital channels they are still more comfortable banking through branches due to the entrenched credibility and trust they have in branch agents in a face-to-face environment.
However, once customers experience the convenience of being able to do their banking anywhere anytime, they don’t look back.
• Cost – there’s a misconception that digital banking channels are expensive relative to conventional platforms, due to high data costs and banking fees.
“FNB offers free subscription to all digital banking channels and our app doesn’t use any data when transacting across all major mobile networks,” Prozesky says. “The app can also be downloaded at no cost through free Wi-Fi in the majority of our branches.”
Banking via digital channels is significantly cheaper than transacting within branch and there are no travelling costs associated.
• Fear and lack of trust in their own ability – some have tried using these channels, but find it too difficult to navigate them at first. Most are intimidated by technology and fear making costly mistakes when transacting, especially in context of limited financial resources.
Fortunately, technological advancements have enabled banks to create checks and balances for customers such that they can easily track their money and be in more control at any hour of the day. In addition, banks have attempted to make transacting as intuitive as possible on these digital channels.
• Fraud – trust is still an ongoing issue, coupled with the fear of becoming victims of fraud due to a lack of knowledge and exposure to digital banking channels. Since security and privacy are of paramount importance, FNB makes use of a number of security features to protect customers.
These include monitoring the device being used to ensure that it is verified. If the device is not verified, only limited services will be available. Customers transacting via online banking may be required to authenticate the transaction on their banking app as an additional level of security. With the FNB App now making use of finger print verification to ensure no unauthorised individual can access your banking app profile, it is truly the most secure way to transact.
• Access – despite the smartphone penetration rate increasing, a small portion of customers stated that they don’t have access to digital banking channels.
“Costs and access to smartphones continue to be a barrier to some consumers due to affordability,” says Prozesky. “Therefore, we are constantly trying to innovate in this area, and empower customers to bank anywhere, anytime using the latest technology at affordable prices.”
Digital channels allow customers to bank on the go through multiple devices of their choice and immediately reduce the cost of banking.
“With the world going digital, it is essential for consumers to take advantage of innovation and technology that has been designed to offer them the best value, experience and service possible,” Prozesky says.