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Development in the banking arena | 04 February 2020

Development in the banking arena

Messrs Weeling Le and Van Schalkwyk display samples of the new Absa cards the bank will be introducing (Photo: Louis Toussaint)

Monday February 10: Barclays out, Absa in!

 

It is now official. The Absa Bank (Seychelles) Limited will officially take over the Barclays Bank (Seychelles) Limited as from Monday February 10.

The re-branding exercise is almost complete for Seychelles and as part of this re-branding, several new services are being offered to clients.

The representatives of Barclays Bank Seychelles, including the managing director, Yohan Van Schalkwyk; the chairman of the Board, Jean Weeling Lee and the head of marketing and corporate relations, Amanda Bernstein, met the press yesterday at the Capital City to make several announcements and to confirm they are ready to be Absa.

“It is a very special occasion for us as for the past 18 months we have been having lots of discussion in changing our brand from Barclays to Absa. That moment is almost here. We have been serving our customers in Seychelles very well and we take a lot of that legacy with us as part of our DNA. Clearly we hope travelling the next 60 years as Absa and serving Seychelles even better. For our organisation it is an exciting time for us, even for the country as it is not every day that an iconic and long outstanding brand changes name,” said Mr Van Schalkwyk.

He also noted that “we are systematic in Seychelles and our DNA is Seychellois: our customers are Seychellois, our colleagues are Seychellois and we are a Seychellois bank. The fact that we are going to put red brand on top of this does not change the fundamental DNA and how we serve our customers. The rebranding process has taken a lot from our colleagues. Even our customers travelled this journey with us. We thank them for their unwavering trust and support”.

Mr Weeling Lee noted that this separation journey took them almost two years and it involved the dedication of the local staff to make it happen.

“This process was quite complex as it involved the transfer of IT systems from United Kingdom to South Africa. All the teams in the 12 countries had to operate at the same time and I am proud that we were able to successfully do the transfer even though we were serving our customers. This change of name also implies a change in what we will be proposing to our old and new clients. I am sure we will all be impressed with the innovations we will showcase when we open our doors on Monday,” explained Mr Weeling Lee.

To rebrand an organisation present in 12 countries on the African continent, Barclays has invested 870 million pounds. The separation started in June 2017 and has to be concluded by June 2020.

“That entails we have to move 193 systems from Barclays PLC to Absa South Africa and so far we have done 150 and during the next couple months the rest will be moved,” added Mr Van Schalkwyk.

 

New innovations

As the journey unfolds, Mr Van Schalkwyk stated that the customers will start seeing some new innovations. “Customers will start getting a different experience as it is not only a change of brand but also the launch of a new bank and a new brand and bringing possibilities to life. It becomes also part and parcel of our clearly stated intent to become a Pan-African bank that understands Africa and that understands the Indian Ocean Region.”

He further declared that Absa makes banking easy for the customers and it will have a strong focus to be a digital bank.

“We will introduce a high level of self service and we will introduce banking that is accessible and convenient.”

Absa is launching a new card (debit and credit) which is a vertical card. Another exciting news for the premier customer is the introduction of the Dragon Pass for all credit card users access to airport lounges across the board against a nominal fee. This will facilitate their time while on transit.

Another new service is chat banking which will enable the customers to interact with the bank through a mobile application.

Good news for the small and medium entrepreneurs. “Currently Barclays has an extensively portfolio of SMEs and we have them at heart. In line with that we will be introducing the SME tool to assist our SME customers where they can determine their cash flows among others,” explained Mr Van Schalkwyk.

 

Reassurance

The team reassured the clients that their cards, cheques, loan agreements and all the products they have with the bank will not be impacted with the name change.

“All your account numbers and your cards remain unchanged until the expiry dates. We have a program for the clients to transition their cards and cheque books,” noted Ms Bernstein.

Since the announcement in 2017, 3000 conversations have been taking place with the colleagues and customers.

The customer service will continue and as they go forward new functionalities will be introduced.

“We will start offering our customers self-service options where the staff can open accounts remotely using a tablet. The customers will have access to their account 24/7 and slowly we will introduce more products,” added Mr Van Schalkwyk.

 

Redundancy and compensation

The managing director of Barclays reiterated that during the rebranding of the bank, there has been no redundancy and there will be no redundancy. There is also no compensation as the workers keep working under the same legal entity and existing contracts.

He also noted that actually the Seychelles business has grown in terms of business and staff. Currently Barclays have 280 staff with nine branches and 21 ATMs around the islands.

 

Street party

To celebrate this transition, Absa will be organising a street party on Saturday February 15, as from 5pm on Independence Avenue where they will showcase all their products. Local artists will also perform during the celebration.

Mr Van Schalkwyk thanked all colleagues and customers who have travelled this journey together.

 

Vidya Gappy

 

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