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ONLINE BANKING: Absa’s NovoFX App Eases Cross-Border Payments

David Wandera, Absa Bank Uganda’s Head of Markets during the release of the Absa Financial Markets Index (AFMI) in January 2020.

In August 2020, Absa Bank Uganda launched NovoFX app that makes cross-border payments easy. Business Focus exclusively interviewed David Wandera, Absa Bank Uganda’s Head of Markets, about the benefits of the App and why Ugandans should embrace it.

Below are the excerpts of the interview;

Q: Briefly tell me about Absa’s NovoFX app?

A: NovoFX is a new mobile application with an intuitive interface that allows users remit funds internationally.

Q: What makes this App unique from other Apps on the market?

A: It’s unique in a sense that it offers users a real-time mode of payment as well as real-time foreign exchange rates. It saves time since there is no paper work to be filled by the user. The App comes with a lot of convenience and flexibility; it can be accessed anytime anywhere since it’s on the phone. The app also offers a quick payment solution at a lower cost and competitive FX rates.

Q: Who qualifies to use this App?

A: At the moment only an existing Absa Bank Retail client with a current or savings account is able to use the app.

The app should be embraced because it offers convenience; it’s secure and saves money.

Q: How has the market responded to the app so far?

A: We launched the app in August and a number of clients have really embraced it and are happy with the benefits it offers.

Q: What’s Absa’s target with NovoFX app?

A: The current target is all existing Absa Retail clients. However, in due course, this will be expanded to include non-Absa account holders as well as international clients including Ugandans living in the Diaspora.

Q: Electronic fraud is on the rise world over. How secure is the NovoFX app?

A: NovoFX uses a number of security mechanisms to increase your security to prevent identity theft and other online fraud threats. These include; Multiple firewalls, advanced encryption software, App timeout and automatic logout and One-time verification passwords.

Q: Digital banking is the future. How is Absa Bank Uganda preparing for the digital banking revolution?

Absa Bank Uganda already has versatile internet banking platforms that our clients are already using. This is for both personal banking as well as business banking. These include;

–       A trade finance portal, which allows customers to apply online for all trade facilities as opposed to physically visiting branches to do the same.

–       Enhanced internet and mobile banking platforms offering greater functionality.

–       Uganda’s first contactless functionality on the Absa Visa debit cards, which enables customers to simply tap their cards on contactless-enabled POS machines to make payments.

–       A conversational platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI) called the Absa Bot, which engages and supports our customers with instant, contextual and personalized communication.

–       Absa also has a fully digital branch on parliament avenue that enables customers to transact without interacting with any person.

Q: Besides these, what other internet banking products and services does the bank offer?

The bulk of traditional banking services can now be done online with us excluding cash deposits.

We have various platforms like Absa Internet banking Retail (AIR) for personal banking customers that allows our customers to do any personal banking online including Online account opening as well as Business Internet Banking (BIB) for our business clients, Absa access platform for our corporate clients offers multiple online banking services including international payments, local payments, utility payments, foreign exchange services amongst others.

Aside from internet banking, we also have a USSD mobile banking service (*233#) that can be used by our Retail clients who have no access to the internet.

Q: In your opinion, what’s the future of online banking in Uganda like?

A: More and more, we are seeing traditional banking that requires clients to walk into Brick and mortar locations for their banking needs becoming irrelevant.

The roles of banks are evolving to become more advisory than manual, thus setting the stage for digital banking to take over. For the banks, it’s cost-effective as it implies less operating costs than physical branches, and for clients, it offers convenience and saves money.

With the various advancements in technology, online banking will soon become the main form of banking.

As Absa, we are already preparing our clients for that and encourage them to take on as many online banking services as they can access.

Q: Your last word…

A: To keep safe during this era of COVID-19, I would advise all customers to follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) like social distancing, Sanitizing, and limiting physical contact with other individuals only to necessary interactions. The use of online channels is greatly encouraged because, by adopting the use of Absa’s online banking offerings, the risk of exposure to COVID is greatly reduced.

Taddewo William Senyonyi
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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