Only if Mshwari was part of the CBA Loop App
It is slightly over a month since CBA launched their mobile banking app dubbed the CBA Loop – Unbank yourself. I honestly do not know how they justified the use of the words “Unbank yourself” yet in all practical purposes CBA Loop App is an App meant to allow you to easily access your bank account. If you do not have a bank account with CBA (other than the M-Shwari virtual account that probably every MPESA customer has), then the CBA Loop enables you to open one in under two minutes.
Let us assume that you have been intrigued enough to head to your phone store and download the CBA Loop App, what should you expect to do with the CBA Loop? At the launch of the App, CBA explained that CBA Loop App is first and foremost meant to “eliminate the need for visiting a physical branch for any of the core banking services”, signifying that the App will allow CBA customers to do more than perform simple withdrawals, deposits, bank transfers and any other core banking services that might come to mind.
True to expectations, the menu items in CBA Loop App include:
- Send Money
- Pay Bill
- Buy Goods (by the time of writing this article, Buy Goods had “coming soon” message)
- Loop Invest
- Debit Orders and
- Cash Flow
- Loop Goals
- OK to Spend
Items under SCREEN 2 are what CBA has hyped as making the App so different from any other banking app out there. These items are collectively termed the Personal Financial Management Tool and are meant to allow a CBA Loop user to track, plan and analyse income against expenditure on a regular basis. According to CBA, the tools enable a user to be his/her own bank branch manager.
In addition to allowing you open a CBA account in under two minutes, lets you access both traditional and personal financial management banking services, the CBA Loop also easily allow a new user to almost instantly acquire a prepaid Mastercard – the Loop card.
After signing up for a CBA Loop account, the newly registered account holder can press the “Order Card” button at the end of the registration process, and in seconds CBA will send you details that includes a code of how you can collect the CBA Loop card. This card will cost you Kshs 550 and a few coins on top.
Anyone can technically download the CBA Loop, anytime. Anyone can use the CBA Loop app to open up a personal bank account with CBA, but I personally feel it would have been better if CBA integrated Mshwari into the CBA Loop. For example, if you currently do not have a bank account with the CBA, then downloading CBA Loop will allow you to open an account in under two minutes, but for the account to be operational, you will need to top it up via MPESA PayBill number 714777. This is despite the fact that you probably already have an Mshwari account with CBA.
What CBA could have done is to allow the integration of Mshwari within the Loop – or rather, make Mshwari services be accessible through the App too. In this way, depositing money to Mshwari would automatically make the CBA Loop functional. As at now the only way you can start paying your bills, sending money to other bank accounts, or even enjoying the Personal Financial Management Services in the CBA Loop App is to foremost load money in MPESA, send that money to your newly created CBA Loop account, then from there use the App to do whatever banking service you would like to do. These hurdles could however go away for the Mshwari account holder if Mshwari was part and parcel of the loop account.
Other than the Mshwari shortfall, the CBA Loop is probably the coolest unconventional banking app in the market today. This is not just because the App allows you to analyse, categorize, authenticate, and even set goals for your savings and expenditure, but it is also because, together with the CBA Loop Mastercard, the CBA Loop also allows you to perform Swift and other money transfer services. With the Mastercard that can be ready in under 10 minutes after registration, CBA Loop also opens you to the International markets, online banking, and almost all e-commerce opportunities globally.
If the cool, easy to navigate virtual user experience is overwhelming, then wait until you visit a physical loop store. Loop Stores are dedicated branches that offer customer service to loop customers. As opposed to traditional bank branches, the Loop store offer their services from open booths that are fully equipped with WiFi, phone charging bays, merchandise sales desk and coffee stations. Now listen, if you were thinking of having a meeting place and nothing seem to be suitable, then wait until after hours and book a Loop Store for a meeting joint.
Two important features of CBA Loop that I have found interesting are the Target Savings and Investments. Target Savings enable you to set a saving target, then the loop app will present to you your set goal against the set timeline. This way you can acquire that much needed saving discipline.
On the Investment platform, CBA claims that Loop guarantees the best in market return on investment. After setting up the investment of interest via the App by entering the investment amount and the period to invest, the customer will have the option to liquidate the funds before maturity and to cash out or even re-invest at maturity.
The CBA Loop web portal also allows you to do everything you can do from the mobile App, and this is important for those who do not have a smart device (smartphone, tablet, etc). Many other features of the Loop service are also explained both at the web portal and the App.
Finally, it is important to mention that it would have been useful if the CBA Loop App allowed fingerprint login. This is because the App logs you out after a few minutes of idleness, requiring you to re-enter your rather complex password (you can’t use a simple password for a banking app) every now and then – a process that can be rather frustrating. To alleviate the frustrations, CBA should know that most smartphones in the market today have secure fingerprint sensors which can be used as a login option. The first login, e.g. after one hour of idleness, can be via password. All logins thereafter should be easier e.g. though fingerprints, iris, or whatever.