By Philemon Nyirenda
How times have changed!
Prior to the launch of the first debit card in Zambia over 20 years ago, the traditional way of banking was to go to the bank to do everything. That included withdrawing and depositing from the counter inside the branch, getting your account balance or statement or even getting your account number if you had forgotten it.
As for knowing how much you had spent during the month – you only found out when you tried to spend that you had no money left in the account.
The introduction of the debit card brought with it a new way of banking and addressed some of the challenges customers were facing including long queues and limited banking times.
Years later, more uses for the debit card were introduced, among them making payments for the purchases of goods and services through swiping by using a point-of-sale machine (POS), transferring and making payments to different accounts and most recently depositing money using the ATD machines.
Additionally, internet or online and cell phone banking are the other channels that are in use to make banking even easier and better, thanks to technology.
Despite all these developments in the banking industry in Zambia, there is still a large number of customers who still believe in the traditional way of banking, the ‘brick and mortar’ way, from the branch.
Further, Zambia is generally a cash society and ‘flashing’ of cash for business transactions in the market is perceived to be a symbol of wealth and the norm.
There is a mistaken belief that a business transaction is only complete when physical cash exchange hands or when someone hands you a cheque (post-dated in most cases and with no guarantee it will go through when you cash it). Unfortunately but not surprisingly, this does not only happen in the so-called mass market but among the so called educated people as well.
FNB launched in Zambia almost seven years ago now with a promise to change the face of banking in Zambia using technology and their group ethos of innovation.
In modern society, technology has presented a number of enhancements and developments that can be used to make banking more convenient and cheaper by using electronic channels. These e-channels offer customers a way of paying for goods and services without handling cash.
FNB is widely acknowledged as one leaders in e-banking in Zambia and has led the march towards cash-less transactions. Our electronic products include e-Wallet and Bank-in-a-Bag and more recently our forecourt solution which allows any customer with a VISA and MasterCard debit or credit card to swipe for fuel and lubricants. This ladies and gentlemen has been a first on the Zambian market.
Last year they introduced Advance ATMs which enable customers to deposit cash into ATMs and receive instant value for their deposits, thereby saving them time and the cash deposit charges that banks have introduced in recent years.
Currently, FNB is serving customers through the traditional branch model, e-banking channels (that is FNB App and dot mobi, online banking and mobile banking), Slimline ATMs and ATMs, which are growing at a rate of 15 per annum.
There are a number of advantages that accrue to using the e-channels for business transactions.
• Swiping with an FNB debit card is free while withdrawing cash at an ATM will attract a charge from the bank. For instance, one may draw cash from an ATM or the branch at a cost of up to k20 and k50 respectively to use in a shop while the same commodities can be paid for by swiping at a minimal or no cost at all.
It is also very convenient as it enables one to carry large sums of money electronically without carrying hard cash. Your data is stored on the chip on your debit card. They are far safer than the magnetic strip cards that Bank of Zambia (BOZ) are phasing out. Some people think that they need to be a customer of a particular bank to use their point-of-sale (POS) device. This is not true. All debit cards work of any POS devices.
• The ability to access banking services from anywhere within Zambia and beyond the borders provided there is internet connectivity or network depending on which platform you are using. By using e-channels you save yourself a lot of time by not going to queue up in the bank to draw cash. Most importantly, the use of internet banking enables you to make transactions from the comfort of your home or office.
• With the enhanced security features on the Visa cards, which have the chip and PIN embedded, fraud is mitigated by the use of a PIN at a POS for any transaction to go through. The information stored within the magnetic stripe is highly secure and uses the latest data encryption standards.
• If your ATM card is lost or stolen, you can block your card using internet banking and prevent any other person drawing money from your account.
• Cards usually have a definable upper limit on expenditure per day or hour, which helps in personal money management. Many companies also offer value-added services, special discounts, rebates and other incentives for frequent use of point-of-sale.
As a customer, you have duties and responsibilities that you need to adhere to for you to get the full benefits of using the e-channels.
• Ensure that the account(s) is sufficiently funded
• Keep the ATM cards safely away from water, dust and heat.
• Do not keep the PIN together with the Cards.
• Don’t share the PIN with anyone.
• Inform the bank for any discrepancies that might arise.
• Keep the records of all your transactions.
• Check your monthly statements and reconcile with the receipts.
To reward customers using e-channels, FNB recently announced the launch of its unique customer reward programme called cash back– a first for the industry in Zambia.
“The rewards are in cash and will be credited into the customers’ accounts at the end of every month. All customers who hold Smart, Gold and Platinum accounts are eligible for this programme,” said Johan Maree, FNB Zambia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) during the launch.
FNB continues to lead the march in e-banking in Zambia to the benefit of its customers who can now access their money and various services quickly, cost-effectively and safely.