South Africa’s Absa Group has built a digital infrastructure that primarily aims at improving customer satisfaction:
The South Africa-based financial services group Absa Group gives major thrust to what the customers feel about the offerings it has and constantly improving this perception through use of digital and high-end technology is its mission. It claims it is a financial services institution that tests every data point to design the best digital solution for the customers. The bank has launched several digital initiatives recently with the customers as the focus point.
Formerly Barclays Africa Group, Absa Group offers personal and business banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management, as well as bancassurance. It serves in the markets of Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, while it has representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria.
RECENT DIGITAL INITIATIVES
Some of the recent digital initiatives of the bank include account opening using its website, ChatBanking using WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, Abby, the AI learning bot that assists in transactions using the bank’s app, and an Internal AWS Cloud Incubator, launched in collaboration with Amazon Web Service, which empowers employees with cloud platform skills. Its digital customers proactively opt to use its banking app, online banking, USSD, ChatBanking and NotifyMe digital alerts service.
Absa has outlined 4 key drivers that govern its product development – feature functionality, customer centricity, quality and security. Its Absa Abby is among the first-to-market in-app conversational AI virtual assistant in the South African banking sector. The bank recognized that conversational AI is increasingly being used to drive greater customer experience and digital adoption, continuous innovation and process optimization.
The bank is now accelerating cloud adoption. It is already one of the largest cloud adopters in Africa. A key outcome from a cloud incubator program undertaken was for participants to be able to identify cloud opportunities and to create more efficient, scalable services and solutions.
The bank has undertaken a program to migrate away from existing data centers and build new service capabilities in the cloud for a more agile business and to optimize technology expenditure. It opted for AWS to help deliver its aims and, by 2020, had launched more than 100 initiatives on the AWS Cloud.
Another crucial area where the bank had been a pioneer is in the adoption of open source and move away from expensive proprietary software. It has replaced some of its proprietary software with open source at a fraction of the cost. Moving to open source has allowed it to cut reliance on vendors, which has improved data security and given it greater opportunity to design services.
NEW OPERATING SYSTEM
Absa has implemented a bank operating system from leading cloud banking and digital transformation solutions for the financial services industry, nCino, to have a single platform solution to automate its debt case management and portfolio reporting processes in its Relationship Banking Business.
USE OF AI, ROBOTICS
Absa is relying on AI and robotics to gain market share in the country’s banking sector. It had started experimenting with chatbots in mid-2016 to assist customers in the opening of a new accounts. In June 2016, it launched its full chat banking services on Twitter and later on in July, it unveiled what it claimed was a world first for Facebook Messenger, allowing customers to do their banking without needing to leave the social media platform.
Absa had, way back in 2018, decided to get rid of manual processing in trade finance and invest in automation solutions. It collaborated with Canadian company Surecomp and implemented the back-office trade finance solution IMEX. The deployment improved operational efficiency while mitigating risk and demonstrating agility in its ability to scale and meet increasing customer demands. In a phased manner, the bank brought its multiple subsidiaries across Africa onto one integrated platform. IMEX offers a web-based interface for remote accessibility and open API connectivity, with full integration to the Surecomp Marketplace for access to other fintech partners within the trade finance ecosystem.
Absa has an agreement with SUSE Rancher Labs, a unit of the Germany-based multinational open-source software company SUSE. SUSE Rancher provides a rich catalogue of services for building, deploying and scaling containerized applications, including app packaging, CI/CD, logging, monitoring, and service mesh. When an organization like Absa deploys Kubernetes clusters to accelerate digital transformation. SUSE Rancher unifies these clusters to ensure consistent operations, workload management, and enterprise-grade security. Absa has migrated its application estate to SUSE Rancher and its on-premises footprint is being extended into the cloud, using the same best practice and multi-cluster management techniques.
The fully resilient, self-healing platform, built in-house and supported by SUSE Rancher Labs, has been the catalyst for the bank’s rapidly increasing infrastructure transformation.
This article has been compiled based on publicly available information on the web, particularly the bank’s own website.