Traditionally and for along time, Housing Finance Company – which has since rebranded to simply Housing Finance (or HF in short) – was known for nothing else apart from the provision of mortgage lending services to those aspiring to own their own homes.
But because growth brings change with it, the HF Group has since gone beyond just mortgages and now provides banking services as well through HFC, its banking subsidiary.
And now in order to even reach more people with its banking services, HFC has now moved to ride on the country’s high smartphone penetration (estimated at around 84 per cent of total mobile phone users) to bring its services closer to the customer while at the same time enhancing efficiency and convenience.
This week, the HF Group launched a digital financial services platform dubbed “HF Whizz” which it aims to use to accelerate the growth of the bank’s digital banking strategy.
The development and launch of HF Whizz is aligned with HFC’s strategic focus on digital banking, which brings together years of technological research and development and an expansive partner network.
Speaking at the unveiling of the new platform, Sam Waweru, the MD of the group’s banking division HFC, said that the bank’s digital banking platform is part of its business strategy to diversify and grow its retail business while it addresses consumer demand for banking on the go.
(TOP: HFC MD Sam Waweru – left – showing HF Group Chairman Steve Mainda, the HF Group MD Frank Ireri – centre – how to activate the HF Whizz, the bank’s new digital banking solution).
“Through HF Whizz, we want to deliver a frictionless digital experience across all our customer touchpoints with greater agility. It is our vision that the digital banking platform will enhance our customers experience, provide comprehensive business functionality and drive profitability,” said Waweru.
In terms of uniqueness, the HF Whizz platform is different in various ways. The platform has been developed to deliver on simplicity and speed of performance, and allows users to open a bank account, access their accounts and perform end-to-end banking transactions directly from their smart phones.
“The platform will enable customers to instantly open an account using their national identification card, transfer up to Kshs 200,000 daily, purchase goods and services and make deposits through the PAYBILL No. 100400. In addition, the platform provides lifestyle value-add functionalities such as budgeting, real time settlement, and free limitless bank account access among others. In short, this platform affords our customers functionalities that will help them manage their bank accounts remotely,” Waweru explained.
The ability for one to open an account from their mobile phone is a first in the market and brings with it various potential security challenges. But alive to this reality and the potential risks is exposes potential customers to, the digital platform comes with multiple built-in security layers including an advanced account authentication feature to ensure secure transactions.
HF Whizz comes at a time when the volume of mobile banking transactions in the country is recording huge growth. And with over 90 per cent mobile phone penetration in Kenya and an estimated Kshs 1.22 trillion worth of transactions in the second quarter of 2017, HFC seeks to be at the forefront in the next generation of financial services providers.
HFC has invested heavily in innovation targeted at meeting changing consumer needs and providing solutions that require minimal effort by its customers.
“With our digital banking platform, we want to deliver value to our customers while demonstrating the technological benefits to our shareholders. We have the right technology in place to manage any market shifts and industry changes,” Waweru said.
Apart from mortgages and HFC, its banking division, HF Group also has interests in real estate development and insurance. HFC is currently pursuing a growth strategy that includes customer recruitment, deposit mobilisation and branch expansion with the aim of becoming a top tier bank by 2020.