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Nedbank unveils Africa’s first digital-only branch

JOHANNESBURG – IN an industry increasingly revolving around technology, Nedbank has officially launched what is said to be the continent’s digital-only branch.

Officials disclosed the facility, called the NZone, was an investment of over R2 million.

It was unveiled at the Gautrain Station in Sandton, northern Johannesburg on Thursday evening.

The branch makes the most of modern technology such as virtual reality to interact with clients and prospective customers while eliminating the need of tellers.

Tina Pierterse, Nedbank Executive: Channel Strategy and Communication, said the full cost of the branch was “in the region of R2 million to R2,5 million.”

“Because it is experimental, you tend to spend more upfront,” she said in an interview.

The technology includes modern, touch-screen computers and mobile virtual reality headset.

“The self-service area generally the most expensive ATMS can range between R350 000 and R950 000 depending on the functionality of that ATM. So, for technology on the branch, I can say we spent something like a R1 million.”

She added, “Then there’s face recognition as you enter the branch. We can see the sentiment analysis on your face.”

Pierterse said as the banking industry changed, Nedbank had more digital offerings coming to the fore.

She said there would be more of the NZone outlets but not at scale.

“You are not going to suddenly see 500 of them but only components of this branch in existing branches. Virtual reality has just gone into our Eastgate branch. Video banking is at scale at all of our stores. We learning what works and expands elements of that in our stores.”

Pierterse described her involvement in the project as “humbling.”

“Banks often are not seen as leaders in technology in any way, thus it was a massive challenge for us. It has been hugely rewarding to be involved in this project.”

Brigitte Ryder, Nedbank Provincial General Manager: Gauteng North, said the NZone was in keeping with the company’s “digital first, first in digital” ethos.

“We have innovations based on their understanding that clients don’t need to manage money for the sake of managing money but rather to facilitate their daily lives to make it possible to fulfill their goals,” Ryder said.

“As technology is changing all areas of our lives, including how we interface with our finances, Nedbank’s purpose is to use our financial expertise to do good. Technology has a huge role,to play in enabling us do good for all our clients and society at large,” Ryder added.

She concluded, “On the choice of the Gautrain (Station), we simply, want to create a commuter type space for people of the go, limiting traditional banking, providing quick and easy service, supported by our digital genius.”

Four employees will assist clients at the NZone.
– Technoafrica

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