A view from a Retail Banker -The new age of Digital Banking

A view from a former Retail Banker - The new age of Digital Banking

By Quinton Steenkamp-Cairns

I remember when digital banking first started, how genuinely scared I was to sign onto a platform to perform a transaction, paranoid that the funds would not reach its destination. It was a concern that many of our clients had as well.  

This was ironic seeing as I worked in the bank, branch banking to be exact in Cape Town, and I was the person teaching our clients how to use these platforms. Little did we know that years down the line the banks would encourage clients into digital banking.

When digital banking first arrived

When digital banking first arrived

Digital banking was new at that stage, and clients were very hesitant to use it, as it was a massive change from the old ways of doing things. Remember standing in the queue in the bank to deposit cash at a teller or to see a consultant to discuss your account, or even better, waiting to see the bank manager to discuss taking out a loan and negotiating an interest rate. 

Long gone are those days, a couple of years ago this was all computerised, branch managers had no say due to the NCA (National Credit Act) that would not allow you to overextend yourself on debt. This was seen as a good thing as so many people had bad debt due to no system being in place to control the limitless debt opportunities available to clients. 

The NCA systemised the process of taking out debt by calculating your expendable income and granting debt according to what you could actually afford. 

Did client relationships suffer?

Working in branch banking for just over 12 years, you built strong relationships with clients, I think the main fear was losing that face to face contact for the “old school” banking clientele. Someone to complain to or compliment about the service received regarding your enquiries or transactions at the branch. 

I wish that these clients could have seen into the future at that stage to see how digital banking would change the face of banking completely and how it would benefit us, especially in times like today where we are experiencing a global crisis and are unable to leave our homes unless it’s for an essential need. We are so fortunate though to be sitting in our homes and transacting online as if we were in a branch, yes there may not be that face to face contact, but there is assistance that is just a phone call or email away. 


Today we refer to these online applications, processes, products, or business models in the financial services industry as Fintech (Financial Technology), these financial services are provided through software applications or other technology. Blockchain is also set to become a major disrupter across financial services, as my colleague James discussed in his recent article 

So in conclusion, branches today are becoming digital and are likely to be phased out in their entirety.  

This is the future of branch banking….. 

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