ABSA Bank chief executive officer Mizinga Melu says digital innovation and creativity is the way to go for banks as a way of providing convenience to clients.

And Melu, who was recently elected as Bankers Association of Zambia Chairperson, has described the competition in the banking sector as healthy, saying there are still a lot of citizens that are unbanked.

In an interview, Thursday, Melu said ABSA bank was driving a digitally-led agenda to reach out to more customers.

“I think the main thing to focus on also is our digital agenda as banks. As ABSA, we are driving the digitally-led agenda. So meaning whatever we are doing, we have to continue to ensure that we reach customers out there. Even when we can’t reach them via brick and mortar, we should have a lot of compositions digitally that are able to reach the client. For example, if you want to transact on mobile money, you can. So yes reaching out to the clients via brick and mortar is fine but we are also reaching out digitally. That is really one of the biggest agenda items that we are pushing,” she said.

“Gone are the days to say ‘what time is the bank going to close’. We don’t have to do that, you just have to transact and so digital innovation creativity is the way to go. Everything that we do now is expected, it’s almost like before being digital was an add on, but right now is expected. You want to get your bank balance, you have got it. The digitally-led agenda provides convenience and also reduces the cost of doing business because we don’t have to spend so much money on brick and mortar. However, we can still reach our clients.”

Melu said banks needed to reciprocate government’s agenda of pushing an E-government, as a way of providing convenience to their clients.

“If you look at the government, the government is pushing an e-government so to say. If you go to immigration you find e-government, if you go to the passport office you will find e-government, if you go everywhere you will find e-government. So we have to reciprocate by ensuring that the best way for us to reach the unbanked, the best way for us to provide convenience to our clients, because it is all about convenience. You want to transact when you are here and you don’t have to rush,” she said.

Meanwhile, Melu described the competition in the banking sector as healthy.

“It is an open market and I think we still have a lot of unbanked population in the market. So at the end of the day, the more institutions we have the better. So I’m sure the Central bank is open. Right now we have about 18 banks and we are going to focus on the 18 banks that we have. So with these banks, our role is to continue reaching the unbanked. Yes we have reached companies that are banked but also the citizens that are unbanked. From the bankers association, the competition is healthy,” said Melu.