Digitisation and technological innovation are nothing new to the South African banking industry.

But those banks that had made significant progress on their digital journeys before the Covid-19 pandemic, have been best placed to meet the fast-changing needs of their clients and, as is the case with Nedbank, gain efficiencies and grow market share in the process.

According to Ciko Thomas, group managing executive for Nedbank Retail and Business Banking, the progress that the bank made on its digital transformation journey in the years leading up to 2020, equipped it with the technology infrastructure, world-class banking platforms and processes, and agility to move quickly when its clients most needed it to earlier this year.

As a result, the bank has seen gains, not only in the digital migration of its existing clients, but also in its ability to attract and efficiently onboard new clients – despite remote working and social distancing challenges.

“Over the past few years, Nedbank has invested into the development of a true omni-channel banking experience for our clients, including our Eclipse single-client-view onboarding and servicing system, various platform-based banking ecosystems, and our industry leading Open Banking (API) platform,” Thomas explains. “And, while we had no idea at the time we were developing these systems that they would be so absolutely vital to our customers in 2020, they have given us the ability to actually enhance our solutions and service delivery for the benefit of our clients during these difficult months.”

According to Thomas, the bank’s digital sales increased to 53% in the first half of 2020 from 9% in 2018.

The bank has also prioritised its turnaround times for credit application approvals and funds disbursals. Thomas points out that this focus on credit provision speed and efficiency has been facilitated by means of an straight-through processing system, involving a single digital application form that is pre-populated for existing Nedbank clients, automated credit assessment processes, and fast approval-to-payment processing times.

“We have significantly increased the number of same-day funds disbursals on successful personal loans applications, from 40% last year to 65% currently,” Thomas says. “Our clients appreciate the speed with which these funds are now made available in their bank accounts during Covid-19 and the national lockdown.

“Our more efficient digital credit process has resulted in the Net Promoter Score for this key touchpoint in the client onboarding journey increasing from 70% to above 80% since the bank rolled out its Eclipse digital platform ecosystem to its branch network,” he adds.

“In June this year, we effectively switched off all our legacy systems, so all our new business is now being originated through our digital Eclipse platform,” Thomas says. “This convenient, digitally enabled sales ecosystem has significantly enhanced the levels of ease and convenience enjoyed by our clients, both in terms of joining the bank and quickly accessing the finance solutions they need through a vast array of digital channels.”