Banking by remote draws nearer
REMOTE business banking is fast emerging as an essential tool for small and medium enterprises - and the franchising sector is no exception.
Valuable time frittered away standing in bank queues is a common complaint among businessmen. But as South Africa moves closer to a paperless business environment, the dramatic growth in the popularity of electronic banking is helping to change the way that people do business.
A major advantage of electronic banking is that it is not constrained by banking hours. It can also help to reduce banking charges by cutting down the number of cheques issued each month, for example.
"Remote banking facilities enable small and medium business people to manage their time more effectively and to keep a tighter control on their business's financial position," says Jopie van Honschooten, divisional general manager of Standard Bank's small and medium enterprises market.
He says there has been a quick take-up on the bank's Autobank card for small and medium enterprises. With this card customers can access the total remote banking services platform, including the Internet.
Among other services, this card enables SME businesses to make electronic payments to third parties, obtain bank-certified cheques and withdraw and deposit cash outside normal business hours.
The card is a major time-saver. "With an SME Autobank card, it is possible - using a telephone or cellphone - to pay the staff's salaries directly into the employees' own bank accounts," he says.
An SME Autobank card may be used by more than one authorised person in a business, in the same manner as multiple signatories operate on a cheque book. Customer selected limits are stipulated by the applicant in the card application form, whereby the business manager is able to exercise strict control over the type of transaction that other cardholders in the business are able to conduct.
Toni-Bank-by-Phone and Bank-by-Fax are interactive transactional media which enables businessmen to conduct a range of banking transactions from home. All that is needed is a touch-tone telephone with star and hash keys. A cellphone can also be used - provided you take precautions to delete your information from a cellphone memory to avoid fraud.
Printed, faxed confirmation of Toni Bank-by-Phone transactions can also be obtained.
Autobel - accessed via Telkom's Beltel system - is another interactive electronic banking facility. As with the Toni system, financial information such as the latest gold and Krugerrand prices and buying/selling rates of the world's major currencies can also be obtained.
Van Honschooten observes: "Today's remote banking technology is very user-friendly. The huge number of PCs being used in the SME market tells us that our customers are not technology-shy, but that they approve of innovations that enable them to make use of interactive remote business banking - using the Toni or Autobel platforms for instance."