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Saccos should embrace digitisation to remain relevant

 Digital transformation improves customer experience. [iStockphoto]

Digital technologies are transforming every facet of human life and the financial sector is not an exception.

Digital transformation is changing how financial services are offered and accessed. In its simplest form, digital transformation involves the integration of digital technology into all areas of operation. For Saccos, digitisation of their data, use of automated technologies, mobile money services, block chain technologies, and smart technologies, among others, promises to simplify their operations and improve efficiency in operations, processes, and delivery of financial services.

In the era of digital technologies, it is important for Saccos to understand that there are growing expectations among members for seamless service delivery. This calls for adoption of practices such as omni-channel banking, self-service portals, integrated systems and mobile wallets.

The importance of and need for digital transformation within Saccos became especially apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic which accelerated digitisation of financial services due to social distancing and shifting consumer demands. A McKinsey survey reveals that 94 per cent of financial firms that remained operational during the pandemic considered digital technologies to be critical to the crisis response.

As customer expectations continue to shift, Saccos will lose their market share to more tech-savy institutions if they fail to keep up with the latest technology trends. To remain competitive, they have to be innovative and agile to adapt to the changing digital landscape and embrace digital transformation because:

Digital Transformation will improve efficiency - Digitisation of Sacco processes such as accounts management and loans processing can have a significant impact on the resources, efficiency and time taken to complete these tasks, minimising human error and enabling staff to focus on other core business goals. Digital transformation is critical to increasing the convenience with which customers access Sacco services.

Digital transformation will improve customer experience - Seamless omnichannel tools have emerged as important customer touchpoints with mobile applications, social media, digital wallets and smart devices emerging as customer-centric options for customers to access Sacco services.

Enabling customers to access services from anywhere and at any time is key to improved customer experience. Artificial intelligence virtual assistants and chatbots are also provide instant 24/7 customer support which is key to reducing the cost and human involvement associated with access to customer support. These tools offer better ways for firms to serve their customers and maintain healthy relationships.

Digital transformation will facilitate cost reduction - Digital transformation can have high initial costs but has significant long-term cost-reduction implications. Digital transformation facilitates the transition to paperless operations which significantly reduces the cost of storing and managing customer data.

-The writer is a financial expert, Imarisha Sacco


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