We are in that future where industry prophets foresaw the phasing out of trips to the bank to do minor things like check the details of your bank account. We are in that future where the banking sector is undergoing rapid disruptions spurred by advances in technology that has seen increased penetration of the internet. This is the future that was promised to us because we can now click our way to a great deal of banking details that needed people to spend long hours in bank hallways, suppressing temptations to cut queues back in the dark days. We are in that period where banking institutions have been forced to write banking apps for a technologically-conscious demographic as a way of encouraging mobile banking uptake – save for activating a dormant account; for this case, you need to be in the bank in person.
While we appreciate these provisions, there are a lot issues that have plagued seamless uptake of mobile banking apps. These are issues that can be fixed and deployed to users via an update but the sheer amount of time it takes to address these concerns discredits our belief that banks are forward-seeing institutions with means to handle any rumblings among their esteemed customers.
I’m talking about Equity Bank’s Eazzy Banking application that was launched a couple of months ago via the bank’s subsidiary Finserve Africa Limited and its MVNO, Equitel. The app is fine, and is bundled with awesome features that I will briefly talk about to augment my genuine love for its provisions.
To begin with, you can manage your bank account(s) within the app after you have signed in with Equitel SIM and bank details (if you do not bank with Equity, you can still open a bank account – within the app!). Management includes viewing your accounts and transferring funds, as well as checking account statements, transactions and account summary. At the same time, sending money to various accounts (including those on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook from your address book, in addition to traditional mobile money partners such as M-PESA and Airtel Money (Orange Money is awaiting resurrection)), pay bill via Eazzy Pay and buy Equitel bundles or airtime (for Equitel, Airtel and Safaricom). You can check your loan limit via the app. Also, the app features stock options, currency exchange rates and activities of the Nairobi Stock Exchange.
This is all fine, until you realize that the app lacks key features that are present in USSD. If you noticed, you can buy airtime for all the major mobile operators in the country save for Telkom Kenya except you do it via USSD.
Also, people have complained of the app’s failure to process loans. For instance, you can only view your loan limit, which, apparently, was not possible until a couple of days ago. However, there is no way you will contain an emergency via the app because you can only be credited with an advance via USSD, which is problematic if you are on another SIM card.
Thirdly, payments and bills processed via the app take an extended period to effect. For example, you could try buying airtime for, say Safaricom, which takes up to 5 minutes on my end. You cannot say the same thing via USSD that has proved its reliability and speed. By the same token, purchasing items such as Kenya Power tokens (I know) is plagued by unnecessary delays that are unheard of in rival products.
There has been an issue when withdrawing money from an Equitel Agent where an error pops up and you leave the stall without your money. Worse, such errors are processed in 72 hours, which may seem like a short time in eternity terms. But why would they hold your money for that long – something that Safaricom solves in minutes?
Lastly, the Eazzy Banking app looks like it was designed for Android KitKat (I have no idea how its iOS counterpart looks like) back in 2012. Apart from a few touches of material design elements, the app remains aged, having been deprived of updates by its creators in about 1 billion years. On the bright side of things, it works on newer Android platforms such Nougat (hello to you 0 Oreo users reading this), which was not something you could say for the KCB app that couldn’t run on Nougat goodies in early days.
We hope that Eazzy Banking app developers are aware of these issues. It makes little sense to push for mobile banking (Equitel has already signed up 29,000 payment merchants to give Safaricom’s Lipa Na M-PESA the competition it needs) with solutions that are partly broken or do not blend well with other offerings.