The way we handle money has got to be one of the key changes that have happened in the past few years. To be honest, ten years ago, we could not imagine a day when you could go cashless for a day, yet this is the reality of the world today.
Money was handled physically since time immemorial. From the days when currency was in the form of goods and services to the gold coin era when wealth was measured in gold and other precious metals and eventually, paper money.
How we store and preserve wealth was also extremely physical and manual, evolving from bags stored by priests to the not-so-reliable mattress banking and finally the introduction of banks.
Having been introduced in Africa through an Indian-owned Quasi bank in the 1800s, the concept of banking as we know it today changed how wealth was stored. While it was mostly aimed at availing credit to enable trade, the bank would accept deposits from individuals and use that as the pool for funding the loans requested. This is the baseline-banking concept that traditional banks have not veered from yet, the basics of banking if I may call it that.
Over time, more banks were introduced enabling better processes and organization on how cash was received, counted, stored, accounted, and withdrawn. Most records however were kept on paper and the accounting was very dependent on how good the accountant was at Math. Needless to say, as technology evolved so did these services.
With the onset of the computer age, banking evolved, utilizing simple banking and accounting software that reduced the time taken to serve customers and improving accuracy. Some financial institutions have gone a step ahead to customize their own core banking systems to improve customer experience and user experience for their staff.
Kenya witnessed a great leap in the early 2000s pioneering the Mobile Money transformation which saw banking brought closer to the average joe. In 2012 NCBA bank launched the very first Mobile savings and loans service, M-Shwari which has revolutionized savings and access to credit. Even though mobile money made great advances in connecting Kenyans to finance, the banking process, remained unchanged and largely physical.
In 2017, a key connection was made uniting both worlds and unlocking a new age of banking. NCBA Loop enabled us to shift from traditional branch banking to a fully digital bank. We were now able to access all the services we needed; be it saving, investing, credit, and even making payments at your neighborhood kiosk through a simple App.
With the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, financial institutions were put to task to innovate and offer as many of their services as possible virtually. Most businesses went cashless only accepting card or virtual payments. Most institutions have tried to adapt, but one thing is clear, few are able to cover all aspects of life, and those that do such as Loop have been able to rip the benefits with more customers adopting them.
In 2021, we find ourselves deep in the third wave of COVID-19. As we try to stay indoors and keep our businesses moving, Kenya braces itself yet again for a new wave of innovation. With the customer having been the constant player throughout this journey, you can rest assured the customer will influence the change.
Did you know you can ask for better yet demand what you want to see in the next evolution? Well, now you know.