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South Africa: SA Drives Barclays Africa Innovation
Source: http://www.itweb.co.za/
Source Date: Wednesday, November 06, 2013
Country: South Africa
Created: Nov 06, 2013

Matlolong concedes it was a tough time, although it has settled nicely. He says the Africa team now has around 2 500 employees and has grown by around 400 since being bedded down around the middle of 2012.
Last year, the bank redeployed about 1 600 staff members in its group IT division. Staff were told to reapply for jobs within the group, but about 200 unsuccessful employees were marched off the premises in February 2012, carrying their possessions in boxes.
See also

• Absa provides online insurance platform
• Absa IT running costs drop

• Absa
• Barclays

At the end of March 2012, about 145 of Absa's IT staff members were still on gardening leave, while the bank attempted to assist them in finding new jobs. In May, many were sent letters saying they would be out of work in a month.

Absa later withdrew the letters and entered consultations with financial union Sasbo. Matlolong could not give numbers as to how many people were finally let go.
On the hunt Matlolong says SA is now developing country-specific technology for Africa, which is based on input from local markets. He adds that each country has an onsite team, and the group has access to a development centre in India.
The bank has been upskilling the local and Indian development teams, says Matlolong. "We are hunting for the right skills."

Matlolong says the bank has a "huge" drive towards mobility and Internet, and has a plan to make WiFi available for free at its branches as part of its branch redesign. In June, Absa unveiled its first paperless branch and, by the end of the year, it will have rolled out 35 paperless outlets in SA and 25 in the rest of Africa by year-end.

The free WiFi is part of its plan to get customers feeling more comfortable with using mobile technology, says Matlolong. "It's a way of pulling feet in."
There are a number of initiatives when it comes to customer experience, including payment tools and pushing Internet banking adoption, says Matlolong. He says technology can make customers' lives better.

In the first half of the year, the bank said it had cut its IT expenses by 10% due to its "relationship" with Barclays. A spokesman says it will work closely with the Barclays teams in the UK and US to accelerate product and customer service innovation. "Increasing our alignment with Barclays has allowed us to launch innovations such as our banking app, Pingit and tap ‘n go cards, at a low cost."

Last month, it unveiled what it claims is SA's first fully-integrated online insurance platform. Matlolong says Barclays is in 12 markets, while the Absa and Barclays entities in Tanzania are being combined. Its biggest markets include Ghana and
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