Challenges to digitalisation

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Acting SLB head of brand and marketing Manyathela Kheleli

By Seleoe Nonyane

Lesotho’s banks are slowly moving from the traditional banking systems to the new technological methods of using digital banking practices, although they are still beset with challenges.

Customers are daily seen queuing at the banks to seek different banking services despite the new method of digital banking being in place.

Indian English-language business-focused daily newspaper, The Economic Times, defines digitalisation as the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities. It is the process of moving to a digital business.

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The method comes with numerous advantages that can help provide enhanced customer services.

It says digitalsation reduces human error and thus build customer loyalty. People have round-the-clock access to banks due to online banking. Managing large amounts of cash has also become easier. This is according to The Economic Times.

Despite these new inventions, some banking clients are still far from using this banking method as they flock they physically flock to the banks to seeking.

theReporter caught up with clients of one bank in the country who had queued up for services at one of the banks in Maseru city.

One of them, Reatile Mokete from Maseru who had just received some services at the bank said he could not afford to buy the smart phone in order to enable him to use digital banking method. For that he could not access the internet from his mobile and opted to physically visit the bank for services.

“Data is very expensive for me and I cannot afford it. Therefore, I always have to come physically to the bank whenever I require some services because some of the services provided online require access to the internet.

“Also, acquiring internet is also a hustle. So this traditional way of is very convenient for me although it also comes with challenges such as consuming a significant amount of my time.

“I have waited on line for more than an hour which means I had to miss some of my day to day errands,” he said, hoping that one day he could purchase a smart phone to access the new banking method.

Fifty-four-year old ‘Mamolemo Motenalapi from Morija was also waiting in line to pay school fees for her children. For the past 10 years she said it has become a norm for her to pay school fees for her children using the traditional method of physically depositing money at the financial service provider.

She is ignorant of mobile banking as she has not registered for mobile banking and preferred the traditional method of paying for the tuition.

“I own a feature phone and I am aware that mobile banking is also available on this phone. But I cannot use it at all. I have attempted using it on several occasions but was unsuccessful. Therefore, I will always come to bank whenever I need to pay my children’s school fees,” she said.

But some consumers have come to terms with the shift to digitalization and are enjoying all the benefits that comes with it.

Mosonngoa Lelimo is a happy client of one of the banks saying that using mobile banking has been very effective to her life as it saves her a lot of time.

“I think I have been using mobile banking for more than five years and to be honest, I was a bit sceptical at the beginning but with time I adjusted and learned to fall in love with it. I never worry about queues anymore because I pay for my son’s school fees from the comfort of my home without the need of going to the bank and other services such as purchasing airtime through mobile banking,” she explained.

However, she has experienced a few hiccups such as technology and service interruptions when services become temporarily unavailable forcing her to wait for some hours before the services resume.

Banks in Lesotho have embraced digitalization and are set to improve despite all the setbacks that unfold.

The Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB) acting head of branding and marketing, Manyathela Kheleli, said that the bank has been on a journey to improve its digital platforms when it first introduced the system in 2017.

“I am proud to say that SLB is the first and only bank in the country that gives digital loans. A customer automatically gets a loan offer. With just a click, they receive the loan the same day. This is our recent milestone.

“We have ATM’s that now receive cash which means that our customers do not necessarily have to deposit cash in the banks anymore. All they have to do is visit nearby ATM and deposit their preferred amount to any account.

“We have enhanced some smart apps such as “Unayo” app which is a platform that allows people to make transactions with ease by just using a mobile phone.

He encouraged Basotho to adopt this method and with time the cost of banking will reduce.

He suggested that some clients still use the core banking methods as they are not educated and informed about the new banking systems. The bank, he added, was carrying out advertisements in different media.

He also said it requires a collective effort in order for everyone to move to digitalization adding that the government has to regulate internet prices to be cheaper so that everyone is able to access it.