Standard Bank ups digital push with cloud collaborations

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 30 Jun 2020
Standard Bank Group CEO Sim Tshabalala. (Source: Twitter)
Standard Bank Group CEO Sim Tshabalala. (Source: Twitter)

Standard Bank Group has reinforced its platform-based business model in a digital push to offer its clients data-driven customer experiences and innovative products and solutions.

The big four bank, which leverages Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) across its IT systems, this week signed an extended agreement with global software solutions firm Salesforce, to power the Standard Bank Group Digital Platform and service its ecosystem of clients and partners.

In the increasingly competitive financial services sector, the platform-based business model has taken hold, influenced by the need to offer agile mobile and self-service banking solutions.

First National Bank told ITWeb earlier this year that it was “aggressively” repositioning for a platform-based future.

Standard Bank Group CEO Sim Tshabalala says the bank’s latest move to sign on Salesforce will enable it to build partnerships with vendors and service providers to co-create customised solutions for its clients.

It also looks to enable the group’s business clients to use the Standard Bank Group platform to create solutions for themselves and their service providers.

“Our extended agreement with Salesforce is a major step towards transforming the Standard Bank Group into a client-centred platform business that delivers a range of individualised, instantly available solutions, services and opportunities, enabled by modern digital technologies and delivered in whatever way a client prefers. Our goal is to use our data capabilities to build deeper, better and more enduring relationships with our clients,” notes Tshabalala.

Last year, Standard Bank signed an agreement with Microsoft, along with a global network of selected system integrators, to migrate its on-premises SAP Enterprise Resource Planning and SAP S/4HANA customers to the Microsoft Azure platform.

The initiative aimed to help the bank deliver a faster time-to-market on products and services, while ensuring its IT infrastructure is optimised.

By moving workloads to the cloud, Standard Bank says it has been able to access a range of features that it can deploy instantly and scale according to demand, resulting in cost reductions, improved system performance and access to innovation.

At the beginning of 2019,Standard Bank, which bills itself as Africa’s largest bank, established the AWS Cloud Centre of Excellence within the bank. The centre features a dedicated team focused on facilitating migration to cloud initiatives and building AWS training and certification programmes to up-skill its employees.

Tshabalala notes that the financial services industry faces an existential threat from new competitors, and becoming a platform provider converges well with Standard Bank’s long-established purpose to drive Africa’s growth and deliver an expanded range of services to support private and business clients.

“We don’t want to be the shop; we want to be the mall. We want to provide both our own services and the services of our partners in the Standard Bank Group ecosystem.

“In order to defend our markets and to grow new ones, we have to become a platform provider. And to do that, we have partnered with Salesforce, and also with Microsoft and AWS.”

The bank has been shifting to branchless banking after closing over 100 branches last year. In October, Standard Bank partnered with iiDENTIFii, a Cape Town-based technology company that enables remote biometric digital authentication on-boarding, to enable it to implement its branchless banking strategy.

In its interim results for June 2018, Standard Bank reported that its active customer base in SA totalled 8.1 million, while on the African continent it had a total of 11.8 million customers.

“Recent events have accelerated the digital transformation of all aspects of our society and a digital customer strategy is now imperative to the very survival of a business,” comments Gavin Patterson, president and chief revenue officer of Salesforce.

“With the Salesforce Customer 360 platform, Standard Bank will be able to build a single source of truth across the entire customer journey and respond quickly to changing customer needs.”