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Absa wants you to do banking on Twitter

In a first for South Africa, Absa has launched Absa ChatBanking, which will allow its social media-savvy customers to perform certain transactions via Twitter.

The bank has set up a ChatBanking account –@AbsaChatBanking – which invites Absa clients to interact with it via ‘DM’ (Direct Message) to receive an account balance, buy data and airtime or to view the last 3 transactions on the account, instantly.

To set up the service, users must:

  • Logon to online banking, click on Settings from the Express tab and add your profile
  • Logon to Twitter and follow @AbsaChatBanking
  • Send a DM to @AbsaChatBanking and simply say “hi”


“For now it will limit you to specific transactions within your own profile,” Absa said, speaking to security concerns.

“Your profile is linked to the Absa ChatBanking and is very secure. In a one-time only process you will register in a secure environment which will link your Twitter profile to your Absa bank account,” the bank said.

“You will be sent a sure-check via your registered cell phone number to ensure that you have permission to link the account. Your account number and personal details will never be displayed in a chat to ensure that even if someone stole your cell phone and looked at your Twitter chat, they would not be able to use the information in the same way that someone who picked up your old ATM slip would not be able to use the information on it.”

The bank added that data and airtime purchases are only for the account holder.

In April, the bank said that it would pilot a chat bot system to enable customers to transact over social media. Chat bots use artificial intelligence to simulate intelligent conversation through written or spoken text.

At the time, Absa noted that messaging apps continue to eclipse social media as the conversational channel of choice in monthly active users, which means that consumers are quickly adopting ‘smart’ two-way messaging apps as opposed to traditional, and more limited options such as SMS or email.

According to Barclays Africa’s Jan Moganwa, artificial intelligence enabled chatbots can answer simple customer questions quickly, freeing up staff to focus on more complex customer issues that require deeper human insight.

First for South Africa

Hashtag transactions are a new concept in South Africa, but is not a new concept in digital transactions.

In 2014, Vodacom told BusinessTech that it was considering hashtag transactions in the country, where Vodacom customers would be able to purchase products directly through social media, taking advantage of the social relationship between customers and the brand.

The concept was based off an American Express partnership with Twitter in 2013, where Amex cardholders could complete purchases of specific items by mentioning the appropriate hashtag in a tweet.

Once a confirmation hashtag was retweeted, Amex sent a confirmation e-mail, giving consumers 15 minutes to confirm a product order. The consumer’s card would then charged with the items shipped to their billing address.

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