Future of Banking with Ebenezer ASUMANG: Digitalized Christmas and an AfCFTA New Year

Green finance
  • “Every industry and every organization will have to transform itself in the next few years. What is coming at us is bigger than the original internet and you need to understand it, get on board with it and figure out how to transform your business.”

——–Tim O`Reilly, founder of O`Reilly Media

The yuletide provides a great opportunity for banks to unleash more of their digital channels to serve clients as transactions during this period exponentially increase. With COVID-19 still hovering around our corridors relentlessly, it will be prudent for banking institutions to drastically reduce numbers in the banking halls by redirecting clients to make use of digital channels.

As financial institutions work to digitally transform their business, there is a need to go beyond simply buying new technology or deploying new solutions. To succeed, retail banking leaders must build a culture supportive of meeting consumers’ rapidly increasing expectations.

Virtually all financial institutions in the world are focused on making their organization ‘more digital’ at Christmas and beyond. From overhauling back-office operations to leveraging new technologies to increasing customer engagement, the requirement to understand and respond to the needs of the digital consumer has never been greater. In most cases, what’s required is large-scale change that typically takes years to accomplish. It would include new technologies, strategies, processes, skill sets and a complete disruption of legacy organizational structures moving from a product focus to a consumer focus.

This digital Christmas transformation cannot occur without the rethinking of the back-office processes banks have had in place for decades, including a streamlining of operations and the integration of new data sets. But the most impactful transformation occurs with customer-facing engagement, including products, communication, customer-service tools and marketing strategies. In the end, it is all about creating contextual engagement across multiple channels.

Digitalized Christmas

There are many digitalized ways banks can take advantage of during this yuletide and that can help them absorb the accompanying human traffic. These include:

  1. Augmenting Mobile Marketing

 Leveraging Mobile AppsThis is no longer a luxury but increasingly becoming a necessity for banks to increase clientele base and satisfy client needs across board. Without an appealing mobile app, visitors may be frustrated and will judge your brand. Everyone is using mobile apps, with millennials and women among the groups with the highest utilization. So, talk to your vendor about your options if your mobile app is lacking or a source of negative feedback.

Email DesignYour emails should be designed and coded so that they display flawlessly on mobile phones. Most emails will be opened by consumers on a mobile device, so financial marketers should plan accordingly. Emails will render slightly differently across email clients, so be sure to thoroughly test your email templates to maximize the mobile user experience.

Mobile-Optimized Add Campaigns – All of your campaigns need to be mobile-optimized. From mobile-specific ads to responsive landing pages, your mobile experience should be seamless. Additionally, if you are using a third-party vendor, their mobile experience is critical, so don’t settle for “good enough” but be sure that their mobile experience is top-notch.

  1. Leveraging website to enhance customer service 

Your website is essentially a digital branch. It’s critical that you maximize this channel to deliver customer service 24 hours a day during the festivities. Whether you love your current website or not, there are always opportunities to improve it. Focus on the things customers need the most e.g., help with online banking, finding your routing number, accessing current rates, finding a nearby branch or ATM, or asking a general question. These can be done through:

Provision of a simple contact form – It’s amazing how many financial institutions don’t do this. It provides easy way for visitors to contact you, ensuring your service team receives inquiries in a timely and structured manner. Saving submitted forms in a database will afford you the opportunity to periodically analyze queries and look for common themes, giving you an objective, data-driven method to improve your website (such as your FAQ section) or other channels.

Presentation of integrated service Options – Like many institutions, you have likely added self-service options over time. However, from a visitor perspective, it is important to present all service options together to give the visitor choices — a true “Omni channel buffet”. A help button, contact link and/or section of your page should present the call centre number, a contact form, FAQs, chat, a knowledgebase, social media, and any other customer service options. Keeping this organized will go a long way to giving visitors the feeling that your website is clear and helpful, while supporting a positive brand impression.

  1. Integration of Marketing

With a lot of cooks in the kitchen, it’s easy to have disjointed messaging, or a single-channel campaign. The problem is that audiences are living in a surround-sound environment, where offline and online worlds continually collide, and brand perception is often fragile. It’s better to do less, but integrate your marketing tactics, then spread yourself thin and “confuse consumers”. This can be carried out via:

Multichannel campaigns Consider all your channels when you have a promotion. If auto loans are a focus this yuletide, plan backwards for success. Strategize your landing pages, then plot out your campaign tactics and determine your success metrics. Relying on organic SEO and paid search, ATM ads, as well as social media and email marketing, your campaign should be integrated, consistent and memorable.

Utilize the strengths of each platform Integrating your marketing efforts does not mean doing the same thing across all platforms. Instead, play to the strengths of each platform, while you unify your message for more effectiveness and brand continuity.

Banks can position themselves well for the new year by taking advantage of the festivities with awesome services digitally for customers and potential ones alike. There is obviously no turning back with digitalization and therefore the faster and better banks leverage that, the better it will be for them.

AfCFTA New Year on the horizon

At a time when the United States, once a traditional custodian of multilateralism, is embracing protectionism, Africa has taken a bold step in the opposite direction, creating the world’s largest free-trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization in 1995. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which came into force on May 30, includes nearly every country on the continent. And it proves, yet again, that Africa is on the move.

In recent years, Africans have been working to reclaim the narrative, highlighting the continent`s remarkable progress vast potential, to attract investment and deepen regional and global engagement. They have much to boast about. Africa’s average annual GDP growth in recent years, has consistently outpaced the global average, and is expected to remain at least 6% until 2023. Six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa; for the period 2014-2050, PwC projects that Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt will remain in the top 10.

Banking Institutions to leverage AfCFTA in the New Year and beyond

The success of AfCFTA will rely heavily on Africa’s financial services industry’s ability to serve as the brain of the liberalization process. As indicated by the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international economic organizations, the financial services sector should take a lead role in providing the major tools necessary to implement robust trade agreements.  These include:

  1. Mobilization of Savings.

One of the most crucial businesses of banking is to mobilize savings across various sectors of the economy. Savings present a life blood for banks and getting that in excess will help with overcoming liquidity challenges. With the ratification of AfCFTA, the industry will have access to funds from businesses in the form of savings mobilization as many of the local and pan-Africa businesses will operate accounts wo facilitate development. This opportunity will provide competition within the industry and therefore banks which position themselves appropriately, will benefit enormously.

  1. Allocation of capital funds.

This is to take care of productive investment effectively and efficiently. Banks will have the opportunity to help move funding across various areas of need by pan-African businesses with its accompanied international appeal. The opening of new markets and easing of cross-border transactions envisioned under the AfCFTA are expected to increase capital funds and promote both foreign direct investment and intra-continental investment within Africa.

Banks must position themselves to lead the way and develop new technologies to adapt to the diversifications which will result from the Agreement. 

  1. Provision of Credit.

Banks if well positioned, will have access to a large pool of funds to lend, thereby creating opportunities to reap benefits. The banking sector will be relied on to provide the credit and support necessary for certain industries to move forward. This is particularly true of the infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, which will be at the center of Africa’s development goals following the AfCFTA’s enactment.


Banking institutions should and at all costs, take their digital offering to the next level during the Christmas festivities and should position themselves for a massive digitalization take-off in 2022. Banks will benefit enormously as they digitalize by leveraging the advantages from the corridors of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and eventually becoming a catalyst for the transformation of the country and continent at large.

About the Writer

 Ebenezer is a Development Communication Specialist, Finance & Investment Professional, a Certified Digital Marketer, SDG Enthusiast, and a WriterPreneur.

He is Country Director of PIRON Global Development GmbH (www.piron.global) and the Ghana Branch Manager of People Investor AG (www.people-investor.com). Contact him via ([email protected]) & ([email protected])


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