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Nedbank reaches out to business with new platform

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Big-four bank Nedbank is rolling out its new Nedbank Business Hub platform, to service its business clients.

So said Herman de Kock, executive head of business banking sales and services at Nedbank, speaking during a virtual panel discussion on the disruption caused by the pandemic and the move to remote work.

Hosted by Nedbank, in partnership with CNBC Africa, the virtual event featured Liquid Intelligent Technologies CEO Deon Geyser, Microsoft SA HR director Sameera Mohamed, LexisNexis CEO and board chairperson Videsha Proothveerajh, and Craig Evans, divisional executive for relationship banking at Nedbank.

De Kock told the virtual audience that the Nedbank platform makes it easier for the bank’s clients to do business. “It’s a platform that enables our sales force in the commercial banking space, where relationships are still very important, to stay in touch with our clients.

“It is less paperwork, more digitised and self-service solutions to give time and capacity to our staff to still stay in touch via telephone, e-mail, and in some cases, in-person visits.”

Over the past year, Nedbank has made inroads with digital solutions aimed at enhancing the customer experience, such as integrating quick response code technology into its Money App, which enables customers to make contactless withdrawals at ATMs around the country.

Last June, the bank brought to market its ‘super app’ Avo, which allows customers to shop groceries, tech, professional home services like plumbing, prepaid electricity, airtime and data, as well as liquor and takeaways, all on a single platform.

Nedbank also introduced the Rola digital finance offering, which is built on its vehicle asset finance application programming interface (API) for clients in Nedbank's API Marketplace.

More recently, it introduced MoneyTracker, a free online tool to help individuals, households and businesses to monitor their money flows, keep track of their income and spending patterns.

Navigating COVID curveball

De Kock said the disruption brought by the pandemic and the subsequent remote working trend can be likened to a ‘black swan event’.

The interesting discovery was that the technology was always there, he commented. “What COVID brought was discovering that we actually can make this work, and can extract a lot of value from the technology that we have.

“This is not only to manage staff, but to guide the sales force to stay in touch with our clients and to help our clients make sense of what is going on around them using smart technologies.”

According to Evans, stepping into the new way of work and business was a big shift. “The technology was there but in March 2020, as COVID-19 hit, it was all about safety and sustainability.

“What held us back was being in the comfort zone of doing things a certain way…we’ve got the virtual channels but we didn’t use them as much as we could’ve or should’ve.

“That black swan event galvanised us into saying ‘safety first’ for our clients and our staff, business continuity and ability to connect.”

Despite the introduction of digital solutions to improve customer service, the panellists highlighted that human connection remained a key customer need.

Said Geyser: “Many of our customers still wanted personal interaction, and we had to find the means and the ways of work to manage the transition.”

Microsoft SA’s Mohamed pointed out that the pandemic showed so much more can be done remotely than ever thought possible. “The advantages of technology and the extent of what it can actually do are yet to be tapped.”

Mohamed explained that moving forward is not necessarily going to be a pull for remote work. “Many organisations and employers are already saying that while work-from-home provided the flexibility, there is still a craving for social interaction, in-person collaboration and nuances for human engagement. There is balance needed going forward.”

From a Microsoft perspective, she said the software giant has landed on a hybrid model. “Whilst not there yet in South Africa, across many of our offices around the world, we will move to a hybrid workplace model where 50% of the time, we will work from home and the other 50% have the choice to work in the office. This requires an operating model that helps us to bridge the digital and physical worlds.”

Looking forward, Evans noted: “There’s absolutely convenience and safety attached to virtual connections, but as we get more and more through the pandemic, the human touch will come back to a certain degree.”

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