Commercial Banks in Namibia have generated about, N$213 billion from Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT) and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards, for banking severs in electronics in the year 2014.
This was an increase of 147% from the N$86.5 billion recorded in the 2010 financial year over the period of five years.
Bank of Namibia’s Senior Communications Practitioner, Sandra Garises, said when looking at the volumes, the EFT and Card transactions between banks, there was an increase of 79% in 2014 with N$26.1 million from 2010’s N$14.6 million.
“With regard to this, we can say electronic payments being Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT) and Card have increased significantly over the past 5 years. Clearly, the above figures show a substantial increase in the usage of electronic payment channels. By looking at the figures cited above, the usage of electronic payments has certainly gained more traction,” Garises said.
Garises said the usage of electronic payments may have enhanced efficiency in the banking sector. In addition, by nature, fees for electronic payment are cheaper than cheque payments, adding, in this regard, one could argue that the usage of electronic payments may have brought some benefits to consumers.
“Despite the increase in the usage of electronic payments the usage of cash, cheques and people lining up at their banks for various services still remain popular.
“There are always people that would continue to prefer alternate methods of banking. It is generally accepted that electronic banking channels are much cheaper than other banking channels,” Garises added.
Meanwhile, First National Bank Namibia Ltd’s (FNB) customer base for Online Banking has increased at an average of 33% per annum over the last five years whilst the Consumer Online Banking increased at an average of 24% over the same period.
FNB Manager of Online Banking, Kathleen Nell said E-Banking is not what it used to be 15-years ago at FNB Namibia, saying, since then the bank evolved and added functionality almost on a monthly basis e.g. Prepaid Electricity and Airtime and the creation of E-Wallet.
“We used to think that Internet banking only allows a payment or a transfer. We are still the leaders in terms of technology and believe our platforms are the most user-friendly. The “bricks to clicks” strategy within FNB is to add as much functionality onto the electronic platforms so that customers do not have to stand in queues at branches,” Nell said.
Nell added that profits have most certainly increased since the inception of Electronic channels although there are still many consumers and institutions that are not making use of these channels.
“Once again our marketing strategy is important to also take on, not only new customers, but also introduce these channels to existing customers. Our customers are extremely security conscious so it’s also important for FNB Namibia to ensure our platforms are safe to use,” added Nell.
Nell further noted that Electronic Banking is always cheaper alternative way of banking and not only cheaper but more convenient and also easy to use.
“Like we always say: No more standing in queues to pay your accounts. Clients can do E-Wallet; buy prepaid airtime, electricity, and so much more. The added functionality does make everyone’s life so much easier,” Nell noted.
Meanwhile, Bank Windhoek’s Chief Customer Officer, Ryan Geyser said Electronic Banking Channels also include Automated Teller Machine (ATM) and Point-of-Sale (POS) devices, saying, they have witnessed a growth of 48% year on year in the issuing of Bank Windhoek debit cards, which can be used at POS devices at various retail outlets around the country to make payments for daily purchases, rather than carrying cash.
Geyser added that Bank Windhoek launched its Internet Banking services in 2001, following the localisation of its banking system and in 2006; Bank Windhoek was the first bank in Namibia to launch Cell phone Banking.
“These services are popular as they offer clients the opportunity to access and do their banking in the comfort and privacy of their home, office or anywhere in the world, 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Other benefits of Internet Banking and Cellphone Banking are that they are a safe and secure means of transacting as opposed to carrying cash and they are also cheaper than over-the-counter transactions,” Geyser said.
Geyser added that the banks’ profit is not directly related to the migration of transaction behaviour to electronic channels, saying, it is more a method of accommodating the increased number of transactions and customers using digital methods.
“Conventional banking is possibly not still trending, but it will definitely be a means of customer servicing and engagement for a time to come, specifically in our environment. Bank Windhoek therefore continues to invest substantially in the upgrading and enhancement of its electronic products and service delivery to make banking a rewarding experience for its clients.
“In 2012, the Bank introduced SMS and email notification services for internet banking activity on its Internet Banking platform. The Internet Banking Service was also re-launched last month to provide ease and convenient internet banking services to our clients,” Geyser added.
However, Geyser noted that although electronic services are popular in Namibia, conventional banking services are still an important part of the Namibian banking experience.
“As Bank Windhoek we believe in supporting all customer needs in Namibia and thereby allow customers the choice and flexibility to transact as they wish, at their convenience. By moving towards electronic banking, and even to payment instruments like debit card, customers can save money as opposed to withdrawing cash or paying by more traditional methods (e.g. cheques),” Geyser noted.