Absa Kenya
Absa Bank Kenya says their WhatsApp channel sits on a sophisticated technology with many layers of authentication, making it as safe and secure as any other banking avenues.

Millions of Kenyans have found themselves listed with Credit Reference Bureaus after their sim cards were swapped and crooks went on a borrowing spree on several digital lending apps, leaving unsuspecting individuals with unknown debts they end up defaulting on.

One of the biggest headache of online transactions has always been safety and security and how to ensure they are not vulnerable to fraudsters.

As Absa Kenya was spearheading the banking revolution, diversifying channels in order to reach the huge wave of customers that are spending most of their time on their mobile phones, by launching Abby WhatsApp banking, security had to be top priority.

Absa says their WhatsApp channel sits on a sophisticated technology with many layers of authentication, making it as safe and secure as any other banking channel.

The text messaging service is coded and full proof against sim swap cons with a two-step verification to ensure customers money and transactions are safe.

“We have installed a multi-layered approach on the security perspective. Firstly, all traffic between the phone, WhatsApp and the back end are fully encrypted. The second layer of security is around registration. When we register a customer, we look at the cellphone number, we analyze whether it has been SIM-swapped or not and make sure that the registered cellphone number is tied to the customer’s profile at Absa,” said Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori. 

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WhatsApp banking is relatively new with very few banks venturing into the platform.

It is, however, an unexplored space with huge potential given the amount of time spent on the application.   

According to the Global Web Index’s 2020 Social Media User Trends Report, Kenya has the highest percentage of monthly WhatsApp users compared to the rest of the world, with about 97 per cent of all internet users in the country active on WhatsApp.

That is why Absa Bank has expanded its digital channels with a new mobile based bank offering on WhatsApp platform launching its 24 hours’ virtual assistant dabbed Abby in August.

Abby will help customers facilitate transactions and customize experience where Absa customers will be able to conduct digital transactions including account to mobile money transfers, inter-account transfers, bill payments, balance enquiry on WhatsApp.

The Chabot fitted with Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also interact with customers, send notifications and give updates of product offers and credit reports.

To subscribe to the banking service on this platform customer are required to save the bank’s WhatsApp phone number.

“Essentially, we are transforming banking from being a series of complex transactions into a simple conversation on WhatsApp. We have shaped a rich history as a bank of many firsts and today we are excited to continue on this streak of innovation,” adds Mr Awori.    

ABSA Bank was slow in adopting flexible digital technology in Africa owing to slower approvals and limits of its London top shareholder, Barclays, until the British owner sold down its shares.

Barclays, which rebranded to Absa, was among the first banks to introduce ATM machines in Kenya but was among the last to start dispensing cash over a mobile phone through its Timiza platform. The bank is making deliberate shift towards digital banking and has committed to invest at least Sh1.6 billion this year towards digitalization, automation and innovation.

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