StanChart East Africa chief executive Lamin Manjang recently said that the launch of video banking would help push the lender’s strategy of “using digital technology to enhance its operation and cost efficiency and convenience for customers.”
Video banking, which will see clients being served via video and audio links, will replace the traditional across-the-counter service offered by tellers in the next three years.
“In the past, the full range of services used to be available in branches and only part of it digitally. We want to have all our services available on digital channels,” Mr Manjang said.
The NSE-listed lender expects 45 per cent of its customers to transact on new digital platforms by end of the year.
“Through (video banking) model, clients can check balances, transfer money and pay bills, all through their smart-phones. The new online banking platform also offers a self-service option for wealth management,” Mr Manjang added.
The automation could lead to job losses for the lender that fired some 167 workers last year in a restructuring that was initiated by its London-based parent company, StanChart Plc.
Banks are increasingly turning to technology to lower staff costs – the main cost element among lenders – and increase profitability.
Barclays Bank of Kenya, for example, has in the past three years retrenched 420 employees at a cost of Sh1.7 billion.
Two years ago, National Bank and Co-op Bank retrenched a sizeable number of workers at a cost of Sh1 billion and Sh1.34 billion respectively.
KCB recently scrapped 15 director-level positions and fired 120 workers at a cost of Sh1.2 billion.
Wage bills account for about 50 per cent of operating costs and are therefore the first target in a lender’s cost-saving containment plan.