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Absa, majority-owned by Barclays, has launched a mobile application enabling customers to open a bank account in minutes, without visiting a branch.

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This innovative use of mobile technology allows us to extend our reach in many of South Africa's most poorly serviced areas from a banking perspective...
Gavin Opperman, Absa’s Retail Bank Chief Executive

Absa, majority-owned by Barclays, has launched a mobile application enabling customers to open a bank account in minutes, without visiting a branch.

The new service allows Absa sales consultants to use Android-based smartphones or tablet devices to scan new customers’ identification, verify their details, and record supporting information and documents digitally.

Information is then shared with Absa’s systems, which conducts the relevant screening processes and completes the account opening process.

The mobile application reduces the time to open bank accounts and issue debit cards to under 10 minutes, replacing a cumbersome process which included laptops, barcode scanners, printers and card writers.

Gavin Opperman, Absa’s Retail Bank Chief Executive, said: “This innovative use of mobile technology allows us to extend our reach in many of South Africa’s most poorly serviced areas from a banking perspective, and enable greater numbers of our population to access the formal economy and all the associated benefits of having a bank account.

“The remote account opening facility is a crucial ingredient in our branchless banking strategy – where we seek to provide alternative delivery solutions to customers situated in areas where traditional banking infrastructure is not viable."

The service is initially targeted at rural areas and places with high foot traffic, such as transport hubs, shopping centres, factories and offices.

Focusing on these areas is expected to help Absa reach customers who did not previously have access to banking products and services.

Gavin added: “Research into the field of financial inclusion shows that an increase in the number of people interacting with the formal economy stimulates economic growth at a national level, and positively contributes to poverty reduction.”

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