It was a hot Wednesday afternoon when I walked into the head office of Standard Chartered Bank at Accra High Street. I was meeting up with the Digital Banking Team from Standard Chartered including the Head Of Retail banking as well as the Head of Digital Banking.
It was close to 12:30pm when we walked into the office of Henry Baye, head of Retail Banking at Standard Chartered. We were later joined by Yao Wordih, the Head of Digital Banking.
The reason for the meet up was to have a conversation about Digital Banking and how Standard Chartered Bank was making major headways in that space.
It seems they have been on an impressive run. For the past four years, Standard Chartered has been recognized as “Best Consumer Digital Bank” in Ghana at the Global Finance Awards. That’s a good track record. So what exactly makes them so special?
“We recognized a while back that the traffic was slowly moving towards the digital space,” said Henry Baye, the Head of Retail Banking Unit at Standard Chartered.
“We knew we had to move into that space.”
Henry Baye was appointed as Head of Retail Banking West Africa in October 2015. Prior to this, he was Head of Retail Clients for Ghana, Gambia and Sierra Leone at Standard Chartered.
With 19 years of banking experience and having served several roles at Standard Chartered, Mr. Baye was very enthusiastic when speaking about where banking was headed in the future, in terms of digital banking.
Digital Banking and The Future At Standard Chartered Bank
“80% of cash transactions used to be in our physical bank branches. Now 81% of those transactions take place at ATMs”, said Mr. Baye when talking about how customers nowadays are interacting more with ATMs outside than with tellers inside the banks.
“At the moment, there are twenty one (21) Standard Chartered ATMs which we term as smart ATMs, which have the ability to accept direct cash deposits from customers”, he continued. “These ATMs even accept foreign currency and users have the ability to make cardless cash deposits.”
Mr. Baye went on to say that Standard Chartered have a lot of new products and features in the pipeline which will be later rolled out this year and next year. Some of the new features will include the ability of Standard Chartered customers to scan and deposit cheques directly to their bank accounts via their smartphone. Even the sending of documents to the bank can also be done via scanning on the user’s smartphone.
The Standard Chartered Banking App
If you remember, Standard Chartered unveiled their banking app some time ago. It was called the “Breeze” app. Fast forward to 2017 and other banks have come on the market with their own mobile apps. But Standard Chartered have made major updates and upgrades to their own app to stand out from other banks. Yao Wordih, Head of Digital Banking showed off some of the new features on the app.
In addition to a new feature where users can now just login to their banking account via Touch ID or fingerprint, the Standard Chartered App can also display all account balances including loans and card details, transfer funds from your account to any other Standard Chartered account or any other local banking entity. The app also allows customers to pay bills such as DSTV and GoTV subscriptions, ECG post paid bills, Surfline Data Bundles and as well as Vodafone Broadband bills. From the app, you can also top up airtime anytime of the day. Yao was gracious enough to demonstrate that feature by sending me some airtime to my phone (Thanks Yao!)
Another interesting feature is that the Standard Chartered App also makes use of Instant Pay. Instant Pay allows banks to make transfers and deposits between banks happen instantly. No more waiting three days or more for your cash transaction to clear. You just transfer money from your Standard Chartered Account instantly to the other sixteen (16) banks which are currently on the app.
Digital Banking Revolution
Mr. Henry Baye was proud of how Standard Chartered Bank had made headways in the digital banking space. He predicts that the use of banking halls will be reduced dramatically once customers get more accustomed to making transactions on their smartphones from their workplace or homes. Mr. Baye did note that there would have to be some culture change before Ghana could truly become a cashless society whereby most Ghanaians would be making more transactions online with the use of debit and credit cards.
In other developed countries, cash is becoming obsolete with more people using their smartphones and computers to conduct transactions online.
How long until Ghana gets to that level where we slow down printing of money and start paying for everything with our phones and debit cards? It might be a while.
But Standard Chartered definitely wants to lead the way when it comes to digital banking. Other banks are slowly trying to catch up with their own digital products and mobile apps but they seem be lagging behind Standard Chartered.
If Standard Chartered Bank can keep their foot on the pedal, don’t be surprised if they win the “Best Consumer Digital Bank” for the 5th year in a row.
If you’re a Standard Chartered customer, you can try out the Standard Chartered Bank App on Google Playstore or the Apple Appstore. You can also find out more about Standard Chartered on their website or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StandardCharteredGH/