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Chat Commerce Will Benefit African Banks

Clickatell thinks African banks can benefit from chat commerce.

Clickatell’s Connect Interact and Transact (CIT) annual event held virtually last month told its attendees how companies, especially banks, can benefit from using chat commerce as a new way of engaging and connecting with customers.

According to Hannes Van Rensburg, Clickatell’s Chief Commercial Officer, Covid-19 changed customers’ buying behavior and how they interact with brands. Covid-19 accelerated many organizations digital investments, with companies turning to chat channels to meet the new expectations of customers.

Alyson Clarke, a featured speaker at the event and principal analyst at Forrester, shared some of her company’s research findings centered on her keynote: The Future of Banking. The findings showed that the pandemic caused a change in banking business priorities. For European banks, shifting to become digital businesses rank as the third top priority post pandemic, closely followed by revenue growth and cost reduction.

The next decade in banking, for Forrester, will be all about insights and who consumers trust to use them. According to the organization, consumers want personalized products and experience, with their preference setting the level of guidance and assistance they would get, and that their trust and permission must not be taken for granted.

The importance of chat was the focus on a panel discussion that followed after Clarke’s keynote. Gareth Bray, Business Development and Partnerships at WhatsApp, talked about how important it is to meet your customer where they are. He said the findings at WhatsApp show that 60% of users would rather message a business than pick up the phone. They prefer to interact with a bank on their choice device, on a platform they choose, and at a time of their choosing. They want a frictionless, convenience service from any company they are interacting with.

The co-founder and CEO of Clickatell, Peter de Villiers, said chat was simpler, faster, and smarter for both the customer and the bank. Clickatell, he said, believes banks in emerging markets can increase their reach by a multiple of three if they implement chat.

CEO of Clickatell, Peter de Villiers. Image Source: BusinessLIVE

These findings were underpinned by Samson Isa, Clickatell’s West Africa Director, when he shared the results of an online poll taken earlier by event attendees. 60% of attendees responded ‘very comfortable’ when asked how comfortable their customers were transacting digitally. 44% responded ‘somewhat comfortable’, and the remaining 6% responded ‘not very comfortable’ meaning their customers were not very comfortable transacting digitally.

According to De Villiers, Clickatell sees that African customers want to engage with brands via digital channels, and enabling chat commerce is a huge opportunity, particularly for banks in the region.

Africa in focus

Population: 1.3 billion (2020)

GDP: $6.7 trillion (2019)

GDP per capita: $1970 (2019)