Standard Chartered’s Race To Digital Dominance

The future of banking is here and it is quite interesting. There are no physical edifices stacked with complex resources, sophisticated furniture and workspaces. It is rather of virtual digital platforms for transactions - full of experiences and engagement. Clients interact with banking platforms everywhere around the world on the go and now look at brick and mortar with rose-tinted glasses. While this new alternative is providing convenience and empowerment, its necessity has been accelerated in part by the current global pandemic.

In Ghana, one bank - Standard Chartered - has already seized leadership of the move to the future of banking with its plethora of innovative offerings and products that are transforming the way clients interact with financial services. Standard Chartered’s credibility in banking is without question. Aside from being the oldest bank in the country, the Bank has also proven to be a banking impossibility; it dared to focus on Africa, Asia and the Middle East in sharp contrast to most of its peers across the globe. In 2020, the Ghana Information Technology and Telecoms Awards named Standard Chartered the “Best Digital Bank” in Ghana. A few weeks earlier, the ASIAN Banker singled out the Bank’s retail banking division as the best in Ghana. Euromoney, in February, recognised the bank for being the best in banking transformation across Africa. To wrap up the year, the bank also went on to win the first position as the Most Helpful Bank during the COVID 19 pandemic in Ghana and 2nd in Africa as well as the Most Recommended Retail Bank in Africa for internet banking by the Asian Banker.

In a year that has reflected chaos and uncertainty, it has also demonstrated the power of anticipation, expertise and innovative muscle that Standard Chartered has been blessed with in Ghana. Its digital imperative, started close to ten years ago with its radical decision to reduce traditional branches in favour of alternative channels, has now blossomed into a redefinition of how banking ought to be conducted. This novel strategy has coincided with a country bustling with a rising youthful population dynamic, equipped with the spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity. In a spate of five years or less, the country has seen a rise in a middle-class population thirsty to make a difference and work for themselves. This group, let’s call them the emerging affluent class, are crazy about creating their own prosperity through enhancing their education, careers and businesses than their parents. Digital technology is broadening their access to finance management and helping to support their financial wellbeing.

Equipped with these insights, Standard Chartered set out to create an interface that will capture these clients and drive an end-to-end digital bank that connects them to their most significant needs in real time and in a convenient way. The bank’s multiple award-winning SC Mobile App has now become a nerve-center of connectivity, bridging the gap of inconvenience from the traditional banking offering to a cutting-edge proposition that rhymes with the changing world. Next, the Bank realised that for the proposition to have meaning and resonate with the target audience, it had to create unforgettable connections and matchless experiences. In stepped Sarkodie and Jocelyn Dumas - two of the country’s most prolific entertainers in the music and movie industries. The Bank saw an opportunity to match its digital reputation to the statuses of the two entertainers to reflect dynamism, progression and modernity. Of a truth, Sarkodie and Jocelyn represent an emerging affluent market in Ghana and by tying them to the brand, Standard Chartered was stepping ahead of the game to redefine its banking image and perception.

Our move towards a purely digital bank and the steps we undertook to create this transformation, is geared towards providing convenience and delivering the best digital banking lifestyle - whether welcoming new clients, making payments or investment decisions on the go. Reinforcing our proposition with reputable personal brands in the entertainment space affirms our intent to make digital banking a vehicle to empower and project inter-generational wealth over time while creating unforgettable connections.

SC Mobile is a microcosm of the future of banking - helping various sections of people and businesses prosper across countries in a humanly way as much as possible. The revolutionary mobile app’s full panoply of up to 70 service journeys - financial products including – account opening, inter-bank and mobile money transfers, bill payments, QR code and P2P payments, loan and overdraft facilities, instant fixed deposits, bills and bond purchases and many more - is allowing clients to execute all banking activities from a mobile device. The demand for digital banking has reached a mature point in Ghana and Standard Chartered’s grasp of the new direction of financial transactions is helping to position it at the forefront.

GHANA IS NOT A COUNTRY IN NEED OF MORE BANKS. A digital-first approach to doing business is sweeping across the world and in this country, we have Standard Chartered to thank for it.