I’m no prophet, I am yet to make any claims regarding the future that have come to light. Although to be fair I predicted that I would one day have a Mac book, an iPad and an iPhone all at the same time, and now I do! I also predicted that my daughter would be the no.1 kid in school (like all parents do), and now she is. So proud of her.
But back to the topic at hand.
I have worked in the banking space for about 3 years, and been lucky enough to work at the intersection of marketing and technology. If you thought marketing was sexy, try fusing it with tech and what you have is the equivalent of all of Trump’s 3 wives morphed together. This fusion has led to the transformations you have seen in the banking industry in Kenya and beyond, whether it’s simple solutions like M-shwari and KCB-Mpesa or the smart teller systems you can now find in China and Japan among others. Marketing and Tech fused together have led to the commoditization of banking. You can now order a bank account online and have it delivered straight to your phone. Marketing and Tech fused together have led to diversification of the traditional banking services as we know it. In South Africa this bank is a certified iPhone re-seller. Banks in kenya are now insurance agents. You can now pay your utility bills at your nearest bank branch. Marketing and Tech fused together have changed the competition landscape among banks and beyond. Like this Kenyan bank that decided to get an MVNO license and compete in the Telecoms sector too.

I could go on and on but you get the point. Over the last decade though, the only game changing achievement of the banking sector has been the proliferation of mobile banking. A Tier 3 bank managed to become a Tier 1 bank thanks to Mobile. Agency banking, the one time hot kid in the banking block has been on a slump since banks realized they could achieve mass market reach more affordably with mobile. We have done so well on this front that international mobile lending companies have set up camp in Kenya to get a share of the pie. Like this one that acquired over 100,000 customers in less than a year of launching in the market.

The party is over though guys. Mobile banking has hit it’s ceiling. Yes, I said it. Any product manager still advocating for mobile solutions should be, maybe not fired, but told to go back to the drawing board. And when he/she does, here is what he/she should be looking at:

  1. Internet of things – This is Africa, so please forget the fancy NFC payments and QR code BS that I have seen being touted in board rooms. My prophecy is that Africa will do for internet of things, what it did for Mobile money. Imagine credit scoring for dairy farmers that is based on health and milk production data of their cows, as captured through sensors. The next 100 Million banking customers in Africa will be found through the internet of things.
  2. Big Data – The world today is churning out more data every 2 days than we did from the beginning of time until 2003. Africa isn’t doing much with it. What if a perpetual A student from a needy family in Kianduthi sub-location (that’s a real place) could get school fees loan today and pay it back when he gets his first job? The next bank that jumps from Tier 3 to Tier 1 overnight (figuratively of course) will be buoyed by prioritising Big data led products.
Time to stop thinking m-this and m-that, and start thinking i-this and b-that.
Mobile has had it’s time in banking. In 5 years time when you read the lists of tech predictions in banking, it will either not feature or be last in the list on its way out.
God bless you all.
Apostle Muriu.