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By 8 September 2015 | Categories: news

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It may seem like an unlikely alliance but Standard Bank has joined forces with instant messaging provider WeChat to offer a new service that combines speaking with a banker to handle more sensitive issues, with instant messaging. Available to Standard Bank’s Prestige and Private customers, the service will enable users to send instant messages and get instant response from a dedicated team 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The service is aimed at addressing the time-related hassles of either having to physically go into a branch and stand in queues, wade through call centres or wait for email responses.

At the launch, which took place in the colourful The Playroom in Rosebank, it was pointed out that it can take, on average, one day for an email to be returned, 15 minutes for a call to be handled efficiently, and one and a half hours for a branch visit. Beyond the convenience advantage, Tasneen Natha, the senior manager of customer financial solutions for retail banking at Standard Bank, explained that the new service is intended to foster greater communication and service levels between the bank and its customers.

Tasneen Natha, senior manager of customer financial solutions, Standard Bank.

Chat, meet bank

“Traditional methods of communication have their disadvantages, which can inconvenience time-strapped customers. These days most relationships are conducted via instant messaging, so why not your banking relationships? The goal of providing service on WeChat is not only to make banking easier, but also to provide an unmatched level of personal service that enables us to support our customers in all banking circumstances, anytime, anywhere,” added Sibongiseni Ngundze, head of Retail Banking.

Prestige and Private customers need phone or email their bankers, or speak to their bankers in-branch and provide their WeChat ID before being taken through a verification process, after which they will be registered on the network and then simply need to log in to WeChat and search ‘Standard Bank’ under ‘Official Accounts’ to have access to chat to the team of virtual bankers anytime, anywhere. Natha reassured that the bank does have plans to extend the service to the rest of its customers down the line as well.

Brett Loubser, head of WeChat Africa.

At your beck and call

“Partnering with a household name like Standard Bank will allow us to demonstrate to their large Prestige and Private customer base, the benefits of using WeChat,” says Brett Loubser, Head of WeChat Africa. “In this instance, WeChat allows Standard Bank customers to speak to a real person rather than receiving automated responses,” he added.

The practical uses of the service include being able to instantly cancel one’s card in the event of it being lost or stolen by sending a text message, contacting a dedicated banker when travelling abroad to increase one’s limit, or resolve a blocked card, and being able to attend to important banking matters at one’s own time and convenience, whether that be 10 pm at night or 2 am in the morning.   

There is another boon though, as new users of the service will be able to take advantage of  3 GB of free Wi-Fi, valid for three months, through AlwaysOn in AlwaysOn zones.

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