Investing in digital pays off for Absa
Artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly prominent role in the Absa technology universe
Absa Corporate and Investment Bank (CIB) has once again proven its market-leader credentials, having won the Global Finance awards for Best Trade Finance Services and Best Online Portal in Africa.
Winning banks were selected based on the following criteria: strength of strategy for attracting and servicing digital customers, success in getting clients to use digital offerings, growth of digital customers, breadth of product offerings, evidence of tangible benefits gained from digital initiatives, and web/mobile site design and functionality.
These awards are the latest in a string of successes achieved by Absa in 2020 — being recognised by Euromoney for its leadership response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and receiving accolades by Global Finance for Best Trade Services and Best Online Portal in Africa — and are a direct result of a decision by Absa to invest in digital capacity following its separation from Barclays.
“The past few years have seen Africa emerge as a hotspot for innovation in financial ecosystems,” says James Scott, head of digital and platform services, adding: “For anybody, anywhere, interested in the potential of technology to transform economic infrastructure globally, Africa is where they will find the future today.”
Absa Corporate and Investment Bank took a decision upfront to build Absa Access as a key component of its separation strategy.
This platform provides a single point of entry in a unified pan-Africa client experience across transactional banking, trade and markets with service and support in a single place.
Although Absa Access is still in its foundation phase, with more than 10 value propositions live on the platform, some of the benefits are already materialising and this award is testament to that.
With the African Continental Free Trade Area expected to generate significant economic benefits and reduce trade barriers, this will be a significant driver of trade finance in the region. With this being an integral part of the Absa strategy going forward, the bank has invested heavily in an improved client experience.
According to Thabo Makoko, Absa head of pan-African trade & working capital, and transactional banking in Africa, only a quarter of the continents’ trade finance needs are being met and this gap is expected to widen further over the next 18 months.
The Absa Trade Management Online portal, which is available to Absa clients in the group’s African markets, offers the bank’s corporate and business banking clients a comprehensive range of functionalities including:
- letters of credits;
- bank guarantees;
- import and export trade loans; and
“We recognise the shift towards digital trade finance and our award-winning portal and products meet our clients’ and the continent’s trade finance needs,” says Makoko.
With Covid-19 accelerating the digitisation of financial services, banks are being forced to manage the relationship between innovation and customer data security and integrity. Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing an increasingly prominent role in the Absa technology universe as its looks to automate processes and deep-learning techniques to monitor and manage fraud.
“Using our AI models we can monitor for anomalies proactively and escalate these to management for a decision, making our trade platform safe for our clients and the bank,” says Makoko.
With the International Monetary Fund predicting that the African Continental Free Trade Area will not only have a combined GDP of about $2.2-trillion but will result in major investment in infrastructure, higher cross-border investment flows and technology transfers, Absa is positioning itself as the bank of choice on the continent.
“By investing in our digital assets and capability, Absa is well positioned to be a leader on the continent and we are excited about the future prospects that will result in a unified pan-African client experience across transactional banking, trade and markets, with client service and support in a single place,” says Scott.
This article was paid for by Absa CIB.
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