Despite lacking behind on innovation, Botswana continues to make strides, especially in the digital banking space.
“Botswana is a nation sitting on the cusp of a period of tremendous change and innovation,” said Botswana Fibre Networks (BOFINET) Deputy CEO, Keabetswe Segole at the recent launch of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Botswana Digital Only Retail Bank, the first of its kind in the country.
Segole said this development will help advance the country’s quest of growing into a high income state that is driven by a knowledge-based economy.
He said government continues to deliver strongly on making the pillars of Vision 2036 a reality, spurred on by the strong desire to ensure the country becomes not only a knowledge-based economy, but also drives sustainable economic as well as human social development.
For all innovation to reach the masses for which it is intended for, the internet works as a conduit between the service provider and the end user and as a fibre network provider, BOFINET is a custodian of the country’s internet connectivity.
“An integral part of this is access and digital inclusion, for though a small country in comparison to others, a key challenge we experience in Botswana is the ability – in resources and infrastructure – to include those outside of urban centres,” he acknowledged.
He said in mitigating the challenge, the government has deployed fibre infrastructure that reaches places as far as Mohembo and Gudigwa, villages beyond Tsabong to Streizendum and 2rivers; Sefophe through Bobonong to Molalatau.
“BOFINET has now commenced with a deployment of FTTh, an aggressive deployment that intends to have Gaborone covered in less than three years,” he said, adding that for the country to fully embrace the requirements by technologies such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning amongst others, there is need for a modernised network infrastructure that is ready. “That’s why we are building a state of the art Data Centre,” he announced.
SCB Botswana CEO, Mpho Masupe, said the platform presented an opportunity for the bank’s customers and prospective customers to step up to a new way of banking.
Masupe said the banking application will shift mindsets of what banking was, to what it should be. “This launch is about demonstrating that we have a live platform that enables banking to fit to your lifestyle, not take away from it, not slow it down, but instead keep you going – securely, affordably, and conveniently,” he promised.
SCB Botswana Acting Head of Retail Banking, Letso Gaborekwe, said the world has reached the era of a digital ecosystem with real-time needs and a demand for agile facilities and platforms that support the people’s lifestyles rather than hinder them. “This development is very much in line with our long-term strategic ambitions; it aligns with the Bank’s overarching strategy to empower and support customers in a wholly inclusive manner,” he said.
SCB Digital Manager, Oaipetla Fantan, explained that customers, both existing and prospective can enter the digital-only retail bank by downloading the dedicated Standard Chartered Mobile App via the Google Play Store or the Apple Store, completing all registration details, including relevant document uploads and KYC compliance requirements, confirming submission and location in order to trigger a Standard Chartered agent to activate the account and funding it.
“Funded accounts are also granted 2GB of free mobile data for the account holder with no cost of account set-up,” he announced.
Botswana is the 5th market globally to introduce the state-of-the-art new platform this year, after the Côte d’Ivoire pilot in 2018 focused on the unique needs in an African context.
Africa’s banking market is the second-fastest-growing and second-most profitable globally. The platform provides more than 70 of the most common transactional service requests, including balance check, statements, peer-to-peer payments, QR payments, loan and overdraft facilities, and instant fixed deposits.