How Africa is embracing WhatsApp banking

WhatsApp banking

WhatsApp is not just an application to stay connected with friends and family. It has become much more than this today.  You can now connect to your bank as well. Banking has been brought closer to you through WhatsApp banking chats. With the growing numbers of daily active users of the app, it has become necessary to capitalize on these numbers.

With the growth of mobile money and agency banking, there has been a growing need for banks to increase their accessibility to customers. Gone are the days when people had to visit banks and make long queues to access their money. WhatsApp banking has become a solution to the bank’s accessibility problems. WhatsApp banking is already adopted by Banks in Africa like South Africa’s ABSA and Nigeria’s First Bank.

Through WhatsApp banking, you can now check your balance, buy airtime and make payments to an existing beneficiary using conversational language and short commands. Banks are adapting to changes in customer behavior that now require banking to be available anytime and anywhere the customer is.

“As technology advances and more customers become connected, bringing banking to where our customers are is important to us, especially as we continue our journey to become a digitally-led business driven by innovation,” the chief executive of ABSA retail and business banking Arrie Rautenbach has said, according to Zambia’s Sunday Times.

ABSA, the bank which launched the service three weeks ago has reported more than 10,000 registered customers for their WhatsApp service with 300,000 messages already sent. This success has been attributed to the cost-effective nature of the service, the safety it provides and its easy digital interactions that are more accessible and secure.

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WhatsApp banking in Africa comes after the China-based mobile messaging platform “We Chat” launched in 2013, offering an array of services like money transfers, prepaid electricity, and airtime purchase. WhatsApp chat banking will not be competing with We Chat.

While Nigerian based First Bank just launched its WhatsApp chat service on August 1, Mr. Chuma Ezirim, the bank’s Group Head of E-business, said that customers in Nigeria would also leverage on the solution to perform simple banking queries.

An additional detail on the solution is expected to be provided in the coming weeks through the various social media channels for First Bank. Customers are urged to keep in touch with social media for updates.

“Customers’ expectations are constantly changing and it is our duty as a customer-focused bank to ensure that they are provided with the means to carry out banking service through any channel they desire,” said Ezirim.

While mobile banking and agency banking are still being initiated in Uganda today, banks in Kampala will now have to adapt to where innovation is leading them and add WhatsApp chat banking as well. However, no official communication has been received from any banks in Uganda in as regards WhatsApp chat banking.


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