Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  12 Apr 2012

INFOTECH: Opportunities For Internet Banking In SA


Recent Western Cape Business News

While many South African banking consumers are taking advantage of the ease and convenience of Internet Banking to meet their basic banking requirements, most have yet to fully harness the potential of their online banking facilities.

That’s according to the results of recent research conducted with 1353 Internet banking users by online market research specialist, Columinate, aimed at assessing the Internet banking habits and behaviours of users of this banking medium as well as the overall levels of satisfaction of Internet banking customers with the online offerings of their banks. This survey is the first in Columinate’s ‘SITEisfaction’ series, aimed at measuring website satisfaction across different industries. SITEisfaction will benchmark website satisfaction and provide annual insights to companies in these industries.

Responses concerning the overall satisfaction of customers with their Internet banking offerings (‘SITEisfaction’) revealed that there is still room for improvement as the industry SITEisfaction score was an unexceptional 55. Against this backdrop, FNB scored best on the SITEisfaction index with a score of 68. While Capitec’s SITEisfaction score (70) actually trumped FNB’s, however the number of Capitec customers included in the survey did not reach the minimum sample size to be included as a contender for the position of Internet banking SITEisfaction winner. That said, Columinate, points to Capitec’s top score as a clear indicator that the bank is worth watching as a “rising star” amongst South Africa’s Internet banking solution providers.

The research also looked at Internet Banking behaviours to contextualise the SITEisfaction scores and some interesting findings emerged. The research found that basic transactional and non-transactional activities top the list of typical uses of Internet banking channels, with 88% of respondents indicating that they use Internet banking mainly for viewing balances and making beneficiary payments. Accessing bank statements (72%), making inter-account transfers (66%), and setting up recurring beneficiary payments (53%) were the next most popular Internet banking transactions.

53% of users also indicated that they use Internet banking to buy their cellphone airtime, while a mere 5% of those surveyed make use of online share trading or foreign exchange services.

The survey results also provided numerous other insights into the online banking behaviours of South Africa’s Internet banking customers. More than a quarter of respondents (26%) indicated that they currently operate more than one Internet banking account, while 23% say they have previously used a different Internet banking facility to the one they currently have.

The vast majority of Internet banking customers (97%) access their online facility using a their own laptop or personal computer, while only 28% of those surveyed said they used a cellphone or smartphone app to do their online banking. 14% of respondents have used a public computer to login to their Internet banking account.

While a significant number of Internet banking customers (37%) say they login to their Internet banking profiles between two and six times per week, the majority of users (85%) spend less than 20 minutes logged in to their Internet banking service. What’s more, of all the participants surveyed, only 14% said they actually follow their banks on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Linked.

According to Henk Pretorius, co-founder and Senior Research Specialist at Columinate, this points to a significant opportunity for South African banks to forge better digital connections with their customers via both their Internet banking and social networking channels. “The survey results show that very few Internet banking customers currently utilise this electronic medium for much more than basic banking functions,” he explains, “and with only 24% of users saying they use their Internet banking facility to communicate with their bank, this must surely represent an opportunity for banks to find ways to better connect digitally with their customers.”

Pretorius says that, regardless of the reasons for this reticence by customers to fully engage with their banks online, or use their Internet banking for anything more than basic functions, these issues could be limiting the ability of banks to capitalise on the full potential of their digital channels. In support of this deduction, he points to survey findings that a mere 28% of users say they login to their Internet banking pages to obtain information on financial product offerings or account options. That figure drops even more when it comes to managing their bank accounts, with 27% saying they use Internet banking to apply for overdraft or withdrawal limits, 19% to issue electronic stop payment instructions, 17% to apply for a loan of any sort, and just 15% using Internet banking to manage their investment accounts online.

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