Absa, the country’s largest retail bank, says it’s one of the first banks in the world to notch up a million cellphone banking customers, prompting it to call “2009 the year for Cellphone Banking”.

It was the first South African bank to introduce Cellphone Banking services in the year 2000. Absa says that over the last few years there has been a surge in uptake, with up to 5000 new clients registering for Cellphone Banking each day.

Absa says:

“From observing the registration and usage numbers, 2009 will be the year in which Cellphone Banking develops serious traction in the market such that it is poised to overtake the number of Absa Internet Banking clients this year,” notes Christo Vrey, Managing Executive of Absa Digital Channels.

US-based Online Banking Report suggests this trend will continue around the globe. In a recent report it stated: “We believe mobile will surpass all delivery channels by the end of the next decade to become the most heavily used way to interact with your financial institution.”

There are 1.7 million logons to Absa’s Cellphone Banking services each month, adds Vrey. Wherever they may be in South Africa or in the rest of the world, Cellphone Banking allows clients to load beneficiaries and make payments, purchase airtime, make inter-account transfers, view balances and statements, send notices of payments, and make cardless ATM payments using Absa’s CashSend facility.

Absa’s Cellphone Banking services are provided across three different technological platforms (secure SMS, mobile WAP internet and USSD).

The banks says that the most popular type of Cellphone Banking transactions are balance enquiries, mini-statements and prepaid top-ups. Apparently usage tends to rise sharply in the holiday month of December, when people are on holiday.

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