Absa yesterday unveiled a beta version of its new banking platform to its 1.25 million online banking customers, ushering in a new era in online banking, with unprecedented levels of control and ease-of-use for individuals and small business customers alike.
The radical overhaul that has been in development for two years represents a distinct step-change from what was a purely transactional online service to a comprehensive suite of transactional and non-transactional services, as well as tools to better manage oneâ€™s monthly spend and assist with financial planning.
â€œAbsa Online, and Absa Online for Business, as the services are known, are designed to offer customers a single view of their financial affairs â€“ a portal to oneâ€™s entire financial world,â€ explains Arrie Rautenbach, Head of Retail Markets at Absa.
The platformâ€™s graphical interfaces present a snapshot view of oneâ€™s day-to-day banking, investments, other assets, and liabilities â€“ allowing customers to better plan their financial affairs. BandwidthBlog has not been able to see this yet – despite many logins, the financial management tools do not load yet – but the service is still in beta.
Rautenbach adds: â€œBy providing this consolidated, dashboard view, we are putting the customer in control and empowering them to make the right financial decisions, budget more effectively, and unlock new opportunities for growth. Absaâ€™s online banking customers hold investments and assets totalling trillions of rands.â€
The new, intuitive, navigational structure allows customers to easily flow between various aspects of the service; making payments has been simplified; the design has been modernised; and new features have been introduced such as a secure, text-based messaging channel between the customer and the bank.
Rautenbach says that this weekâ€™s launch is merely the first phase of Absa Online. â€œWe have built a flexible and scalable platform that will allow us to develop new services over the coming months and years, and provide customers with a comprehensive personal financial management platform.â€
â€œThere are a number of innovations planned for later in 2012 designed to further refine the personal financial management capabilities and give customers an even richer banking experience.â€
The service has also been designed specifically with Apple and Samsung tablet devices in mind â€“ meaning it will render and function intuitively with these touch-technology devices. In our testing we found that the site functioned well on our iPads, and functions like reordering accounts by dragging them, worked well. We also appreciate that it renders perfectly in WebKit based browsers like Chrome and Safari, which has not always been the case with the previous internet banking site.
ABSA hopes that Absa Online will stimulate a renewed increase in online banking registrations and activity levels as customers gain familiarity with the new functionality and the ease-of-use.
This launch follows a successful trial with the bankâ€™s 36 000 employees over the past few months. The trial allowed the project team to identify and solve any defects and gauge the response from users, via over 1300 feedback emails received from employees.
Absa Online processes an amazing one-trillion rand in transaction values in a single year. Its foundation is built to easily cater for increased volumes in the future â€“ as more and more South Africans use the internet as their primary banking channel.
â€œThe development of Absa Online saw up to 140 individuals, working across three continents, putting in an astonishing 450 000 man-hours of development work. Four million lines of code were written in this, a â€˜first-of-its-kindâ€™ technology deployment in South Africa,â€ notes Rautenbach.