A case study to examine the use of SMS-based transactional alerts in the banking sector in South Africa
Thesis (MBA (Business Management))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The mobile phone has not only changed the way the world works today, but also changed the direction the world is moving toward. The mobile phone changed the face of communication and enabled more people to reach more other people than ever before. The big four banks in South Africa represent 83.5 per cent of the total asset value of all banks in South Africa. Traditionally, banking customers (or potential customers) could be reached through the current 2 786 branches, 19 451 ATMs and potentially 4.59 million internet users. There are 47.9 million mobile phone subscribers in South Africa – increasing the number of potential contact points by order of magnitude. The possibilities for banks utilising the mobile phone are endless, however online banking and offering banking services through a mobile phone is increasingly more subject to fraud attacks. Online banking and credit card fraud is still on the increase. Today, SMS is used to alert customer of movements on their bank account. This keeps the customer informed and enables them to notify their banks and prevent subsequent fraudulent transactions. SMS can be sent from one mobile phone to another (P2P) or from a computer system to a mobile phone (A2P). In 2007, 2 trillion SMS's were sent worldwide and was responsible for 75 to 80 per cent of all mobile phone revenues. South Africa sent 34 billion A2P SMS in 2009 of which 29 per cent were sent as transactional SMS by the top three banks in South Africa. SMS-based transactional alerts are SMS sent each time a change occurs in a bank account, for example, when your credit card is used then you will get an SMS on your mobile phone. Each bank makes different functionalities available. Absa reported 2 million customers receiving SMS alerts in 2008. FNB reported 67 million transactional SMS per month in 2009. The core advantages for using transactional SMS are the cost, reliability and ubiquity. Research was conducted among five of the six largest banks. Data revealed that banks send between 16 million and 69.4 million SMS per month and have approximately between 4.5 and 5.1 million customers using this service. The impact was tested through personal interviews. The two common factors were fraud reduction and customer retention. The two key challenges the banks identified are: i) Capacity/throughput with the mobile network operators; and ii) Getting internal systems and processes defined and working together for the alerts. The advantages identified are competitive positioning, customer interaction, empowerment of people and revenue. Key findings of the research were: SMS-based transactional alerts offer strategic importance; Any system is as good as it is being utilised; Security controls are extremely complex; SMS capacity is a common challenge and big risk; Internal processes cause the most complexity; Return on investment is not adequately measured; Transactional alerts is a potential revenue stream; There is no interaction between the bank and the customer; SMS in South Africa create high dependencies; SMS-based transactional alerts are successful.