IN an effort to promote self-service banking, Stanbic Bank launched its mobile banking service called Blue 247 on April 27, allowing its customers to enjoy on-the-go banking through the use of their mobile phones.
The Zimbabwean subsidiary of South Africa’s Standard Bank Group notes that in addition to offering convenience, mobile banking costs less than accessing banking services in the branch, saving customers both time and money.
Stanbic Bank, which says it remains the only bank in Zimbabwe with a sales tablet used for customer account opening — thereby promoting paperless banking services — touts Blue 247 as a “very safe” product since the customer gets a password to use when logging into the service on the phone, while only one cellphone number is linked to the customer’s account.
NewsDay financial columnist Omen Nyevero Muza (ONM) recently spoke to Palmer Mugava (PM), Stanbic Bank’s head of marketing and corporate affairs about the launch of the Blue 247, its features and prospects.
ONM: As far as names go, Blue 247 sounds quite sophisticated for a mobile banking offering. Please explain how the name came about.
PM: It was arrived at through a staff incentive exercise whereby members were asked to provide suggestions and the member with the chosen name was awarded a cash prize. Blue is from our corporate colour and 247 denotes availability of banking services 24 hours a day, seven days a week through this new mobile banking channel.
ONM: We notice that the access code or USSD code *247# is similar to or derives from the product’s name. Was that deliberate?
PM: That was deliberate; we had to apply for the code through Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).
ONM: Coming to think of it, you could have launched Blue 247 on July 24 as well?
PM: Interesting suggestion, but the product was long overdue for offering to our clients.
ONM: OK, so what are Blue 247’s features and benefits, in a nutshell?
PM: The transaction menu can be access via USSD by dialing *247# or installing our mobile banking app on your mobile device. The transaction functionality includes airtime top up, balance enquiry, statement enquiry (last five transactions), RTGS, ZIPIT (instant bank to bank transfer), internal transfer, bill payment and PIN change. The major benefit is our mobile banking app which can be downloaded on to the handset, making menu access faster without the time restrictions that come with USSD short codes.
ONM: Is the mobile banking offering bringing any entirely new features?
PM: Not entirely new features, but the channels of transacting are new and better.
ONM: Blue 247 is here, but it’s been a long time coming considering that Stanbic is one of the leading local banks. Why was that so?
PM: It takes some time to decide the best platform to host a product. Several vendors offered to host and we had to vet them all.
ONM: Why is it important for the bank to continue enhancing existing self-service channels or better still, introduce new ones?
PM: Lifestyles are changing, technology continues to transform, therefore, it is necessary for the bank to remain relevant and keep up-to-date with technology
ONM: Blue 247 is seen with the ZIPIT logo on promotional public documents. Explain what the association with ZIPIT means, in simple terms.
PM: ZIPIT is a brand name for Zimswitch’s interbank transfer platform that enables real-time transfers from one personal bank account to another in a different bank. Unlike RTGS which reflects the following day, ZIPIT transactions are instant. This is only for banks that have enabled the ZIPIT functionality on their internal systems.
ONM: Blue 247 is currently available on the Telecel and Econet Wireless networks. Given the lack of inter-operability among the local networks, are there plans to include the other network in the near future?
PM: We are already working on integration with NetOne. There were unanticipated delays in getting the necessary paperwork signed off.
ONM: Any plans for enhancing Blue 247 through other value added services in future?
PM: We continue to monitor technological trends and demands by customers in order to keep our products up to date.
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