HARARE – At a time when banks worldwide are faced with the nightmare of scaling down their service in response to social distancing restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19, BancABC Zimbabwe has scored a first in the country and launched their Virtual Banking service called “Branch X”.
The virtual branch, which has been described as the future branch, allows customers to conduct all banking transactions through video and telephone banking services.
Last week all financial institutions were directed to close their branches as part of the 21 Day national lockdown. The closure of branches has led to a decrease in customers visiting the branch and an increase in electronic transactions.
However, digital channels alone do not address the emotional connection customers want when doing a banking transaction. The launch of Branch X which is pivoted on video banking capabilities allows customers to interface with a teller face to face and perform their banking transactions as if they were in a branch and is among the many digital innovations the bank is rolling out this year.
Speaking during the Virtual Launch held on Facebook today, the Managing Director of BancABC Zimbabwe Dr Lance Mambondiani said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the world does business. No matter what industry you are in, there is an urgent need to review how we offer products & services to customers if can no longer interact in person. We are excited to launch our virtual branch named “Branch X” (a branch of the future) to give our customers a digitised service with a human touch as part of our SIMPLIFIED customer service experience. While in the short term our team we are unable to open branches under the current lockdown, our virtual branch allows us to provide uninterrupted service to our customers in the comfort and safety of their homes,” he added.
Head of Strategy & Innovation and New Products, Patricia Mugabe who unveiled the new product offering to the market said, “As part of our digitisation journey, we have been looking at new innovations to offer banking differently to our customers, the current COVID-19 crisis has allowed us to accelerate our plans to response to the changes in the delivery of banking services worldwide. Branch X is an exciting new innovation offering our customers a personalised virtual experience from the comfort of their homes. We may be in lockdown, but business must go on. Our goal as the #ATeam is provide timely and relevant, innovative digital banking solutions to the challenges faced by our customers on a day to day basis.”
Branch X offers two types of digital banking services, Video and Telephone Banking. Customers can reach a Branch X agent by dialing 08677008667. Customers can interact face to face with an agent, through Skype or Video call whilst plans are at an advanced stage to add WhatsApp videos to the available video options. Customers are able to do Internal Transfers, RTGS Payments, Balance Enquiries & Bill Payments. The service also allows customers to load their remittance receipts directly onto their Prepaid VISA Card.
Head of Retail and Business Banking, Hope Marere who was part of the Virtual Launch said “Worldwide, nobody ever imagined a crisis of this nature and Branch X has proven to be a powerful tool for us to connect with our customers in a new way. Our customers are facing an unprecedented disruption of their daily lives. They have important questions about their money, whether the bank is open or if they will be safe when they get there, the virtual branch allows our customers to communicate with a real person, they know and trust. The future of banking has arrived & if you are not already part of the #ATeam, it may be time to switch to the yellow side of life!,” she added.
Branch X is that ultimate combination of people and technology to provide banking service in a way never seen before. The bank indicated that they will be adding a lot more features to Branch X during the course of the year as they increase the digitisation pace and reduce reliance of physical branches going forward.