By Bernard Yaw ASHIADEY 

Standard Chartered Bank?s Global Head of Solutions Delivery and Service, Russell Graham, says even though going digital or electronic requires a considerable amount of investment, it is tremendously positive for the banking industry.

He said moving paper, documents or cash in their physical form to support trade- finance transactions is actually very inefficient for banks — as it is for customers. So the more that banks move to electronic or digitised transactions, the more both banks and their customers can become more efficient.

?That is definitely the path Standard Chartered is taking, which is trying to ensure that everything we do is digital and only very minimal activity remains in paper,? he added.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting with clients of the bank?s electronic banking platform, Straight2Bank, Mr. Russell said mobile money is one of the sure ways electronic banking can reach the mass market.

?One of best ways we can bring the whole digitisation agenda to a mass market is mobile money, whereby customers can actually use a mobile wallet on their smartphone to be able to pay for goods and services. This will therefore be applicable to consumer-to-consumer as well as business-to-consumer and business-to-business transactions.

?We are in dialogue with customers across many countries in Africa and beyond to see how the mobile wallet proposition will actually help overcome some of the challenges in using cash or cheques, especially for small-value types of transactions.?

Straignt2Bank is Standard Chartered?s fully integrated electronic banking platform. It covers cash, trade and security services. It is a global platform that offers uniformity in client experience across countries.

The platform has a continuum of capabilities from web to host-to-host (an automated, two-way data transfer service for high-volume online banking usage), so the service can cater for all types of clients with all levels of sophistication and different types of transaction volumes.

He explained that the system was introduced as a means of allowing customers to take ownership of their own transactional activities.
?Many years ago, the branch was the main distribution and access channel for clients; but as clients became more sophisticated and global, going to a branch was less convenient so having the ability to do something from their offices was a tremendous convenience for them.

?Also, it allowed us to expose to them a much broader range of products than what a typical bricks-and-mortar distribution channel would allow us to do.

?For the past 12 years, Straight2Bank?s customer response has been extremely positive because the customer recognises the channel offers them a great deal of flexibility and security — and those are key benefits customers want to realise,? he added.

Mr. Graham said the service is applicable to customers from small and medium enterprises to multinational corporations, investors, intermediaries, brokers and other financial institutions.

Explaining the objectives of the breakfast session with clients, he said it is a way to continue the education of clients as to what the platform is capable of as their businesses continue to grow.

?We continue to invest in wholesale and transaction banking and technologies. As we do that, there is a constant need to keep communicating with our clients to make sure they are aware of the capabilities we have.?


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