Have we seen the peak of internet banking in South Africa? Although the banks are quite tight-lipped about their usage numbers, I suspect that the number of customers using a desktop computer to do their banking is declining.
We know that the majority of logons come from office workers, but we also know that the number of employed people (including government workers) in South Africa is stagnant. While many up-market homes have a desktop PC or a laptop, and fibre services have been introduced in certain suburbs, the growth rate of fixed broad-band internet (at less than two million connections) is very low.
The smaller screens are where the action is — banks have been marketing their mobile apps aggressively over the past few years, and now collectively claim that 11-million customers have adopted this channel. This adoption of the mobile phone for banking marks the fastest and most pervasive technology adoption in the history of banking.
Standard Bank recently confirmed that the number of in-branch transactions has declined, clearly as a consequence of mobile banking.
Further into Africa, in Kenya the number of payment card payments has halved over the past three years. The volume of mobile money transactions over the same period has doubled, and the value transacted is now more than twice that of card payments. The success of M-PESA in Kenya has not yet been replicated in other countries, but it is a striking example of how customers change their payment behaviours.
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