By: Ian Carter, Divisional Executive: Payments and Digital at Nedbank CIB

It may feel like ATMs have always been a part of our banking experience, but the reality is that these convenient transaction points were first introduced in South Africa just 36 years ago in 1981. Of course, the ATM’s journey to being an accepted part of day-to-day life was not an easy one. It had to overcome no small amount of consumer suspicion and fear. But the convenience of anytime cash withdrawal soon won, and today we would be hard pressed to imagine a world where ATMs didn’t exist.

The desire to drive public acceptance of new technology is nothing new. The Internet, cellphones, electronic payments, corporate email communications, even fax machines, all faced a similar battle to claim their place in people’s lives and businesses. And while you may be forgiven for thinking that mankind must surely now be more open to adopting new technology, the same fears – particularly around change and security – still make it a challenge for today’s innovations to entrench themselves as part of modern-day life.

Banking apps are a prime example. While at a consumer level, these convenient electronic banking platforms have paid their dues and are now relatively widely accepted, business has been a little less enthusiastic about embracing apps as a banking channel.

However, corporate perceptions are most definitely shifting as business managers and owners come to recognise the many benefits of being able to run and manage their company’s finances with a simple touch or swipe. As a result, you’ll now find increasing numbers of business users authorising salaries from their cell phones while catching a flight or ‘Ubering’ to their next meeting,  or second- and third-authorisers signing off batch payments from their tablets during their kids’ karate lessons.

This convenience has been enabled by the alignment of today’s business mobile solutions with the acceptable checks and controls that clients need to implement and that are now commonplace in desktop banking solutions.

Key to this growing acceptance of mobile business banking has been the ability of South Africa’s banks to demonstrate that they, their risk management systems, and their electronic platforms and systems, can be trusted. That said, we’re not 100% there when it comes to full-scale acceptance and adoption of mobile banking – particularly of the transactional nature. But the objective clearly is to significantly increase penetration in the future, primarily thanks to the commitment of most banks to meet their business banking customers where they currently are in terms of their needs and levels of mobile banking acceptance, and then accompany them on their journey to full mobile adoption.

Since we first launched both our retail and business banking  apps about a year ago, Nedbank has recognised and understood this need to partner with our clients, both in terms of developing the electronic capabilities they want, and in patiently accompanying them to the point of acceptance and use of the solutions on offer.

These lessons have subsequently informed the design of Nedbank CIB’s mobile business banking solution, resulting in a holistic offering that allows our business banking clients to use, and grow their use of our mobile offering in whatever way that’s convenient to them. As a result, while we have a number of clients who are benefitting from the many secure transactional banking capabilities of the app, others are finding their way by using one of the many other features ranging from managing payments or receivables, full transaction viewing to managing their banking profiles, authorising new users, and even checking on what transactions, cheques and deposits have gone through their accounts over a specified time period.

The ultimate goal is to see all our corporate and business clients deriving the many benefits of full mobile banking transactions, but for now, we are very happy to see many of them increasing their comfort and confidence levels with this highly effective business banking channel. Looking at the growth in value of mobile transactions processed over the past few years, it’s clear that acceptance of our app is on the rise. In 2014, we processed a total of R48 billion in transfer and payment value via NetBank Business mobile, while for last year(2016), this mobile transaction value had almost tripled to R128 billion.

There can be little doubt that businesses are increasingly recognising the value that mobile banking offers them in terms of convenience and mobility. It’s very likely that this trend will gain momentum in the coming years as organisations embrace the immediacy of mobile technology, and the ability it affords them to keep a finger firmly on the pulse of their companies finances at all times and at a time and place of their convenience.

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