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By 29 August 2012 | Categories: news

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The latest analysis of customer behaviour by Absa’s Digital Banking unit has revealed that more women are now adopting digital banking.
 
This, explained the bank, brings with it some heartening implications with regards to the empowerment of women in general.  

According to Arrie Rautenbach, Absa’s head of retail markets,while the profile of the average digital banker is still biased towards the characteristics of the early core group of mostly young, male and well-educated individuals, women are slowly closing that gap.

This trend, he explained, bodes well for the development of women economically, as well as having a positive impact on broader financial inclusion.

Cellular banking rules
 
Rautenbach elaborated that the bank’s current digital base consists of a slightly off-balanced split of 53% male and 47% female customers, which suggests that women are trailing men in electronic-banking adoption. Not surprisingly, however, cellphone banking was one of the most popular banking channels being utilised by female customers.

“With a wide range of transactional and enquiry services that are now available via cellphone banking, it is no surprise that everyday more female customers are realising the convenience, simplicity and cost-effectiveness of banking on their mobile phones,” he added.

Rautenbach reported that Absa’s domestic money transfer service, CashSend, and the bank’s SMS alert service, NotifyMe, had also proven to be “extremely successful” with the bank’s female cellphone banking customers.

He further asserted that recent cellphone banking innovations, like enabling customers to apply for and receive a loan in ten minutes, will continue to drive further migration to this channel.

Broader implications
 
However, the shift brings with it broader implications for women than merely suggesting a greater comfort with cellular banking. Rautenbach explained that the trend towards closing the digital gender divide could simulate the pattern of gender empowerment on financial decisions.
 
“Digital banking is crucial for female entrepreneurs and business people. It gives women a new way to save money, transfer money, process small financial transactions and receive credit from micro-finance initiatives,” he elaborated.
 
Rautenbach also pointed out that, while others argue that men are more likely to use electronic banking channels than women, some insights from a recent Capgemini Digital Shopper Relevancy research report suggests otherwise.
 
The survey found that digitally savvy women enthusiastically embrace digital communication, proving to be more active users of digital tools than men.  
 
To the point
 
The trend as reported by Absa’s report is certainly good news, particularly as it comes at the tail end of women’s month, and in the wake of a recent assertion by an economist that the country was not doing well when it came to empowering women economically.
 
If cellular banking can go some way towards making a difference in this regard, it could prove that the correct application of technology on smartphones and feature phones could have a greater, positive socio-economic impact on society as a whole.

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