Absa Bank Kenya, a subsidiary of South Africa's Absa Group, has launched a WhatsApp banking solution called "Abby" to assist users in making basic transactions. According to the Bank, customers can use the service for bill payments, balance enquiry, inter-account transfers, as well as transfers between bank accounts and M-Pesa/Airtel money.
This move is in line with Absa’s commitment to digitise its services. Earlier this year, it revealed plans to commit KSh1.6bn ($14.6m) to its digitisation process, and this is a step in that direction.
While the Bank claims that this product is the first of its kind in Kenya, the Housing Finance Bank of Kenya launched a similar service in 2019.
Speaking at a media briefing, the Managing Director of Absa Bank Kenya, Jeremy Awori, said, "This is a really exciting moment for us at Absa, not just because this solution is first-in-market, but more so because it will significantly transform the way our customers interact with us.
"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.”
As Internet and smartphone penetration has improved in Africa, WhatsApp banking has gained traction in countries like Nigeria where some of the biggest banks including Access Bank, United Bank for Africa, Guarantee Trust and First Bank of Nigeria have adopted it. However, available data suggests that it could be a massive success in Kenya.
According to Global Web Index’s Social Media Marketing Trends in 2021, 97% of Kenyan Internet users use WhatsApp monthly, the highest globally. Therefore, businesses that can tap into that channel could see huge success — something Absa Bank Kenya hopes to exploit.