Smartphones are affecting cellphone banking in South Africa, study shows

The Mobile Consumer in SA 2012 study, which comprises mobile phone use and banking trends in South Africa shows that a majority of the country’s mobile phone banking takes place via text messages.

The study further revealed that more than a third of mobile banking customers are now also using mobile phone browsers for their banking.

Airtime purchasing remains the most popular transaction service in mobile phone banking as 74 percent of mobile customers use mobile banking for this purpose.

The research findings also show that only 15 percent of customers pay their accounts via their mobile phones and that mobile phone-based purchases of physical products that are delivered to the buyer are made by only 4 percent of urban cellphone users, but by no rural users whatsoever.

“The growing sophistication of phones – both feature and smartphones – is resulting in new options and opportunities for customers of cellphone banking,” Ravesh Ramlakan, CEO of FNB Cellphone Banking, said.

He added that the customer is driving the pace of innovation in banking, and the company’s job is to be available to them whenever they want to transact.

Also interesting is to note research study finding that more than half of mobile phone banking customers also transfer airtime via mobile phone banking and that wrural customers are far more likely to do so than urban users.

The same gap and trend extends to the mobile purchasing of pre-paid electricity, with 33 percent of rural mobile phone banking customers and only 21 percent of urban users doing so via their mobile phones.

The pattern is repeated in sending money to other individuals via mobile phone banking — 44 percent rural, 34 percent urban.

“The popularity of money and airtime transfers via cellphone banking is one of the clues to why stand-alone mobile money transfer services have not taken off in South Africa,” World Wide Worx’s managing director Arthur Goldstuck said.

There simply is no desperate need for them, as there is in other African countries, he added.

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