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Absa launches repositioned brand, aims for human-centred banking

Absa Group CEO Arrie Rautenbach

Absa group chief marketing and corporate affairs officer Sydney Nhlanhla Mbhele

23rd February 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer

     

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Financial services provider Absa has launched its repositioned brand, signalling a shift to a more deliberately customer-centric business with the new brand promise being the theme ‘Your Story Matters’.

“As a full-service bank, we cater for customers from all walks of life – from clients who only interact with us digitally, to those who prefer the reassurance of talking to one of our colleagues in-branch; we are a bank for all seasons.

“Your Story Matters is more than a strapline; it is a declaration of our intent that our customers are much more than mere account numbers, they matter to us and so do the stories behind the individuals. Gaining this context will allow Absa to serve them in a more meaningful manner,” says Absa Group CEO Arrie Rautenbach.

The reimagining of the brand follows a detailed review of customer insights, feedback and research.

“A very consistent message comes across in research into perceptions of banks and banking. Customers feel that the relationship is one-sided and that banks don’t understand either their life situations or their individual needs.

“This often leaves them feeling helpless, as well as disconnected from opportunities to improve their individual or business prospects,” says Absa group chief marketing and corporate affairs officer Sydney Nhlanhla Mbhele.

“Infusing more humanity” into the Absa ecosystem is central to this approach.

“Essentially, we’re making a step-change throughout the organisation; one that will involve enhancing the value of our products, improving our levels of customer service, and vastly improving our capacity to deliver banking solutions that will be timely and relevant to our customers throughout their lives,” adds Mbhele.

Moreover, Absa notes that the process is already underway, explaining that the R1-billion pricing relief that the bank provided in South Africa over the last few years, free Absa Rewards, its market-leading renewable energy deals across Africa, and the plethora of employer and digital awards that Absa has received is just the beginning.

OTHER INITIATIVES

In South Africa, Absa is the first and only bank to allow customers the ability to download a pre-populated Unemployment Insurance Fund claim form and process this from over 5 000 automated teller machines nationwide.

“This is making a tangible difference to some of the most vulnerable in society, seeking unemployment benefits. We are also tackling financial inclusion head-on with the introduction of ChatWallet, a new wallet that enables banking services for all WhatsApp users,” the group notes.

Following the success of Absa’s ChatBanking system, which was launched in South Africa on Facebook and WhatsApp in 2018, users can securely manage money without the need for an existing bank account, thereby bridging the gap to financial inclusion.

Moreover, Absa Mobi Tap was recently launched in key markets across Africa, enabling small businesses to accept card-based payments on their near field communication-enabled Android smartphones; creating a new, convenient and seamless solution for customers to grow their sales opportunities.

Leveraging an innovative partnership with the Mastercard Foundation in Ghana, Absa also rolled out a small and medium-sized enterprise offering at an interest rate of 10% to 60% lower than the market average, thereby making financing more accessible to women and youth access financing.

Meanwhile, Absa launched Women in Business offerings across four African markets to directly address the needs of female entrepreneurs, supported by mentorship programmes that have contributed to the performance and sustainability of women-led businesses.

Additionally, Absa’s financial literacy projects and ‘Ready to Work’ programmes continue to ensure that our customers and youth are supported with knowledge in order to be informed, savvy economic actors.

Absa also listed the first ever Sustainable Bond on the Botswana Stock Exchange in January, which will ultimately help create opportunities for companies to drive meaningful social impact through financial inclusion and job creation targeting women and youth.

“This repositioning is not just a marketing exercise – it is a company-wide business transformation and reaffirmation of a more human-centred approach to banking coupled with a seamless experience across our touchpoints.

“The entire company has bought into this renewed vision, and we have worked tirelessly to take our colleagues, particularly our frontline, on this journey. While this is the beginning of the journey, customers can expect improved levels of service experience, underpinned by empathy.

“Ultimately Your Story Matters positions us as a bank that values individual customers and wants to be part of their personal and financial narratives. It suggests a customer-centric approach in which the bank listens to and cares about the unique journey of each person they serve. It defines Absa as a bank of the future; one that is more than just a financial services institution but also a partner on each customer’s life journey,” says Mbhele.

This repositioning of the Absa brand comes five years after Absa became a standalone African bank and marks a significant point in its growth and development.

“The overwhelming challenge for financial institutions is to effectively navigate the immense complexity and market contradictions that are pervasive wherever we operate. Some of these paradoxes include the fact that our collective informal economies are as diverse as our formal economies, while there are numerous geographic hurdles.

“These challenges have ultimately forced Absa to innovate rapidly. This was the genesis of ‘Your Story Matters’ and a more human-centred approach – and these will be our guiding principles going forward as the new brand positioning takes root,” adds Rautenbach.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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