Ned­bank in the zone with Africa’s first dig­i­tal-only branch


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

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

It was un­veiled at the Gau­train sta­tion in Sand­ton 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 for tell­ers.

Tina Pi­eterse, Ned­bank ex­ec­u­tive: chan­nel strat­egy and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, said the full cost of the branch was “in the re­gion of R2m to R2.5m”.

“Be­cause it is ex­per­i­men­tal, you tend to spend more up­front,” she pointed out.

The tech­nol­ogy in­cludes touch­screen com­put­ers and mo­bile vir­tual-re­al­ity head­sets.

“The self-ser­vice area gen­er­ally has the most ex­pen­sive ATMs, that can range be­tween R350 000 to R950 000, de­pend­ing on the func­tion­al­ity of that ATM. So, for tech­nol­ogy in the branch, I can say we spent some­thing like R1m.”

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

Pi­eterse said that 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 are learn­ing what works, and ex­pand­ing el­e­ments of that in our stores.”

Pi­eterse 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’s provin­cial gen­eral man­ager: Gauteng North, said the NZone was in keep­ing with the com­pany’s “dig­i­tal first, first in dig­i­tal” ethos.

“On the choice of Gau­train (sta­tion), we sim­ply want to cre­ate a com­muter-type space for peo­ple on the go, lim­it­ing tra­di­tional bank­ing, pro­vid­ing quick and easy ser­vice, sup­ported by our dig­i­tal ge­nius,” Ry­der said. – CAJ News

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