Two years ago you might be surprised if you stopped by your neighbourhood bank to perform a transaction only to ﬁnd that the branch has been closed due to drastic decrease in foot traﬃc. But this is the situation today. Banks are shutting down physical branches, not because they are losing customers, but because banking has taken a new, faster and cost-eﬃcient direction all thanks to the pandemic.
Think of it this way: if you had the option of being able to perform all your ﬁnancial transactions quickly and smoothly without ever having to step into a branch of your bank and at no extra cost, would you take it? The real question though is, who wouldn’t take it? This is the lesson that almost two years of the COVID pandemic has helped banks learn.
Going into a global lockdown to mitigate the spread of the virus meant that the banking industry, like every other industry, had to ﬁnd new ways to keep operations going to stay aﬂoat. This led to widespread transformation into digital operations that allowed employees to work remotely while still delivering services and for customers to access these services without needing to step into a physical bank. But beyond being a response to the lockdown, mobile banking has led to the evolution of banking with the advent of solutions that mean the future of banking can be even more seamless, cost eﬀective and eﬃcient.
These days you do not need to be physically present at a bank to open an account, to register for an ATM, to apply for a loan, not when you have a mobile device. You are not required to provide all sorts of documentation and papers because technological solutions also mean smoother processes that can cut down on and eﬃciently replace older, analogue processes. This has led to the rise of neobanks. With neobanks you only access ﬁnancial and banking services digitally through apps, softwares and other digital technologies. This in turn has gone a long way in widening access to important ﬁnancial services such as loans and overdrafts.
This proliferation of ﬁntech companies and digital innovation by already established ﬁnancial institutions has created the perfect opportunity for people who were hitherto unbanked to get much-needed access to ﬁnancial services.
It is deﬁnitely signiﬁcant that you can now open a bank account in most West African countries by dialling a ussd code, which also allows you to access a loan by simply following prompts on your mobile phone. The pandemic may have brought pain and distress, but it also brought innovation and a much needed new direction to the banking sector. With our mobile phones and other digital gadgets we do know for sure that we are holding the future of banking in our very own hands.