If there was ever a need for technology to focus on the good it can do in this world, it’s right now. As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, changing our lives in unprecedented ways, it’s technology that’s been our ally, sitting astride this pandemic and keeping us connected, writes Sibusiso Ngwenya, Managing Executive: Financial Services at Telkom Business.

Technology is already enabling us to work from home, attend virtual conferences, bank online and via apps, receive food and entertainment.

In financial services, South Africa has made significant progress in establishing a thriving fintech sector encompassing not only emerging start-ups, but a significant amount of innovation by our more traditional institutions.

We are entering a crucial moment in the development of South Africa’s financial services sector. For this activity to continue to translate into economic growth, we need to ensure that entrepreneurs can scale-up and experience the transformative promises of technology to bring prosperity to all.

With this in mind, Telkom Business aims to play its part in creating a sustainable innovation that helps drive the democratisation of access to financial services for consumers and SMEs, including those unbanked or underbanked.

When it comes to providing much needed access to consumers – be it access to market via our digital marketplace Yep or access to financial services solutions that makes sense – Telkom is committed to growing South African businesses. Our recent announcement regarding the launch of our new financial services product suite is but one example.

Better access to finservices

We see this as an opportunity to leverage our core capabilities and our growing 12 million subscriber base, with the financial services ecosystem as an adjacent offering that we are able to deliver to  Small and Medium Businesses as well as consumers in a cost effective manner. For example, Telkom already provides mobile device insurance to our customers, co-manage the insurance on our fleet of vehicles.  We  have also been providing funeral insurance and credit life for our employees for a number of years. Providing funeral cover to the wider market was a natural progression.

Today we find ourselves on the edge of another industry-defining moment: utilising our expertise as a telco to unlock access to financial services for the underbanked. Opening access to financial services is a big opportunity, we believe it will change the lives of people around the country.

We see this both as an opportunity and a goal because we understand that technology has a huge role to play in addressing humanity’s socio-economic needs. But what we humans do about technology and with technology has always been up to us. It is both a privilege and a responsibility.

Shifting customer behaviour, with ever-increasing expectations and pressure from both existing and new players in the game, affects our business. More and more revenue streams either face strong decline or are being taken over by other players such as over-the-top (OTT) players, challenging telcos’ traditional business model. Yet the transformation of our core business, coming sooner and faster than foreseen, is pushing us to step outside of their traditional thinking and have become drivers of innovation.

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