Absa Bank Kenya launches WhatsApp banking for its customers

KENYAAbsa Bank Kenya PLC has launched a new innovation that allows its customers to access their bank accounts and transact via WhatsApp.

Through this innovation, Absa customers will be in a position to conduct some of the most popular digital transactions in the market such as account-to-Mpesa/Airtel Money transfers, inter-account transfers, bill payments, balance inquiries, among others, on WhatsApp.  

Absa joins another Kenyan bank KCB which rolled out WhatsApp Service to improve its customer service in 2019.

Speaking during the official launch of this service, Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said that the move is a demonstration of the bank’s commitment to continue investing in digitally-led innovative solutions that have the potential to significantly transform the customer experience.

The bank has committed to invest at least Kshs 1.6 billion (US$14.7 million) in 2021 towards digitalization, automation and innovation.

“This is a really exciting moment for us at Absa not just because this solution is first-in-market, but more so because it will significantly transform the way our customers interact with us. Essentially, we are transforming banking from being a series of complex transactions into a simple conversation on WhatsApp. We have shaped a rich history as a bank of many firsts and today we are excited to continue on this streak of innovation,” said Awori.     

According to the Global Web Index’s 2020 Social Media User Trends Report, Kenya has the highest percentage of monthly WhatsApp users compared to the rest of the world, with about 97% of all internet users in the country active on WhatsApp presenting a unique opportunity for Absa to accelerate digital adoption of its wide array of services.  

‘’We are transforming banking from being a series of complex transactions into a simple conversation on WhatsApp’’

Jeremy Awori – CEO, Absa Kenya

The introduction of WhatsApp banking by Absa ushers the sector into the new age of banking which integrates transactional, conversational, and personalized banking services in a seamless, fast and reliable way. This proposition transitions chatbots from being just a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) service to a holistic banking interface that is intuitive.

The digital platform will gauge and anticipate customers’ needs and requests based on its Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and analytics capabilities and consequently offer multiple solutions through core systems and delivery platforms within the bank.  

“With this solution, each of our customers gets access to a 24/7 digital personal banker who can help them perform transactions upon receiving simple instructions on chat. So, the same way one would call their Relationship Manager or go to the branch to initiate a transaction, now you will just need to issue instructions by chatting on WhatsApp,” Mr. Awori said.

To make it even more personal, the bank has given this functionality a human personality as a dedicated, always-on banking assistant, named Abby.

Commenting on the security aspect of the platform, Mr. Awori noted that this solution sits on a sophisticated technology with many layers of authentication, making it as safe and secure as any other banking channel. 

“We have installed a multi-layered approach from a security perspective. Firstly, all traffic between the phone, WhatsApp and the back end is fully encrypted. The second layer of security is around registration. When we register a customer, we look at the cell phone number, we analyze whether it has been SIM-swapped or not and make sure that the registered cell phone number is tied to the customer’s profile at Absa.”

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