On an annual basis, trillions of US dollars exchange hands electronically through various e-ecommerce platforms. These transactions mostly happen between buyers and sellers who are often thousands of miles apart.
For decades, banks have been at the forefront of ensuring both clients and sellers get the best form of services available, no matter the distance that separates them. In Botswana, Rand Merchant Bank Botswana has found it fitting to be part of this all-important payment platform called e-Commerce. RMB is a division of Botswana Stock Exchange listed lender, First National Bank Botswana. The latter is a subsidiary of FNB, a JSE listed banking giant.
Within RMB Botswana, there is no other person to explain better this eCommerce platform, other than Onalenna Bhunu. He is the bank’s Client Implementation Manager. In this interview, he started by explaining what they do within e-Commerce structures. “We basically act as conduit between the client and our MS ecommerce offering. We are that connecting piece between the two, both from a sales and support perspective,” said Bhunu, adding that, their main focus is spread into understanding customers’ needs, engaging various stakeholders, “that are key in the value chain as well as ensuring product delivery in line with clients’ requirements.”
Bhunu, who has an Msc in Strategic Management (University of Derby) explains why RMB has found it necessary to be part of this concept of e-commerce. “As a Corporate and investment bank, we bought onto this concept as a value adding service towards our clients and at the same time making lives for the end users like you and me an easier one,” he explained and further that, e-Commerce, in addition, offers customers a value adding service that facilitates towards consumers a more convenient way to shop for products or services they need anytime and anywhere. RMB has been able to come with tailor-made solutions to take advantage of this consumer behaviour.
“The customers shift to mobile devices and online participation has meant this is a key strategic initiative for clients that wish to gain a competitive edge. We note that this trend is only gaining momentum especially for local services and products and thus customers that take steps now will definitely be winners later,” he added.
Most, if not all services within e-Commerce, are done electronically. This basically means physical interactions are limited. Bhunu, without giving specific figures explained to Botswana Guardian that, there has been a surge in the usage of e-commerce during COVID-19 pandemic. He noted, this surge has helped companies and individuals to do business remotely, especially during lockdowns and restricted movements. “E-commerce has the ability to ensure the economy continues to run even with restrictions in movement. This is because it allows for trade to proceed between parties thereby ensuring continuity in some of the sectors driving the economy. It has brought in the ability for businesses to reach more customers than traditional retail reaches. With so many people making their purchases online, it is the fastest-growing retail market,” he said as a matter of fact.
Global statistics support Bhunu’s assertion on eCommerce as the leading and growing retail market. Available statistics show that, in 2020, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 4.28 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 5.4 trillion US dollars in 2022. “RMB has always embraced the e-commerce journey and for that we have over the years developed products and our systems to support this. The bank offers both off the shelf products and bespoke solutions tailored according to our client’s needs. We also offer different plug ins for the payment gateway which include websites, App and USSD platforms,” he disclosed.
Transacting online also has its own risk, hence Security is of critical importance. Bhunu explains that they are well aware of these risks, and revealed why they have water tight systems in place to guard against possible fraud. Some of the key features that the bank has put in place is card holder Security which includes authentication of the transaction when making a purchase and secondly, RMB has ensured there is security for the solution at large against hackers which includes protection of information entered onto the platform. The bank also keeps to PCI standards, which is high level security of card association. .
The e-Commerce market is set to grow exponentially in the coming years, as more and more consumers transact digitally. “From Botswana perspective we anticipate growth within this space due to the ever-growing mobile usage in the country. This trend however, has moved in leaps and bounds in other parts of the world, specifically driven by the current co