The coronavirus outbreak is proving to be a black swan for businesses worldwide. Under such difficult circumstances, there is hardly any institutional memory to draw on. Although no one may have predicted a global pandemic, some businesses are more prepared than most, and some executives might regret dropping the last digital project initiative. 

Be proactive during the crisis.

For banks and other financial institutions, it’s a balancing act between state-imposed and self-prescribed restrictions on human movement, matched against the institution’s capacity to extend banking services. With diminishing branch foot traffic and fading personal contacts, the true technological readiness of financial institutions has washed up. It’s crunch time and electronic payment systems can no longer be viewed as an additional option.

This is a landline VS mobile phone decision, and banks need to manage the crisis while they run daily operations.

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The W.H.O reports that Africa should “prepare for the worst”. This could mean a more uncertain second quarter, possibly the rest of the year and the next. The forecast has C-level executives in the sub-region racing quickly to “corona-proof” their business. It involves extending banking services to the customer – not just B2C, but Bank to merchants as well – personalised banking services that anticipate and respond to unique customer needs.  

Here are four quick reasons why CMOs, CTOs and CFOs must take notice and fast track the decision process to gain market share.   

  • Customers behaviour is turning to digital channels 

The fallouts of the outbreak are an indication of the “future normal”. Foot traffic in physical branches or stores is on an irrecoverable decline, driven by changing consumer preference for on-the-go services, bound to accelerate in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.   

  • All central banks and W.H.O. are advocating to use digital payments  

In addition to the guidance by central banks for financial institutions to widen touchpoints for electronic payments; W.H.O., the lead body for the pandemic has reportedly added their voice in support of “contactless” payments. 

  • Multiple Options for Diverse customer needs

Electronic payment is not a SINGLE socket and plug solution. There are multiple options for diverse customer needs: from technology-savvy to less receptive customers; advanced and feature phone users; mobile and internet banking; USSD (offline) and online payments.

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  • Digital allows you to get a consolidated view of the customer

You can hardly make it with a scattered view of the customer. Technology allows you to be customer-centric and offers an easier way to support your customer needs. When you segment your customer based on only the service, – bancassurance, mortgage customer- you are missing the biggest picture.

  • Support B2B customers by enabling digital transactions

Your customers are also going through challenges, and might not know how to transform their operations. Your team should not do business as usual and take the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) as an opportunity to discount the future. Merchants need platforms to accept payments online, more than they need POS. This trend will stay post-Covid-19. The question is how are you supporting them. 

Supporting your customers and anticipating their needs in time of trouble is just as important as your BCP. Customers and B2B want strong digital options to carry them. Lift up your head and find the energy to look beyond the cloud. Offering digital options early generates customer stickiness and brand loyalty. Let’s hope you don’t waste this crisis.