Dimakatjo Elizabeth Thaba has a career spanning almost two decades in banking, predominantly retail/branch banking. Industries of which she has, over the years, gradually occupied several positions – from entry level to supervisory, senior management, and now she has reached the executive level. It may have been due to her industry work experiences that Dimakatjo witnessed at first hand the advent of digitalisation and advancements in technology that is compelling banks in South Africa into reorganising their model of operations, as well as strategic positioning.
Dimakatjo asserts that while huge brick and mortar outlets are the centre of banking in developing nations, digitalisation is challenging the trend by offering customers conveniences for basic transactions. Her sharp eyes noticed a low customer adoption of digitalised technologies in South Africa's banking sector, despite the numerous attempts by the South African government and banks to attract more customers to their digital platforms. Factors like perception, high unemployment and high poverty levels continue to challenge customer adoption of digitised banking services.
With the aforesaid in mind, Dimakatjo’s dissertation, entitled: Customer Adoption of Digitized Banking in the South African Retail Bank, adopted the qualitative methodology of research to collect perspectives of the customers on the adoption of digitised banking services as such a methodology of research allows the study to conduct a detailed examination of customer experiences and narrations. The findings indicate that there is a gradual adoption of digitised banking in First National Bank (FNB) South Africa. The main determinants for customer adoption of digitised banking include convenience, ease-of-use, functionality, low banking fees, timesaving, and 24/7 information access on financial status. The other determinants are user-friendlessness, safety, flexibility, and the alleviation of stress.
The findings further indicate that the ideal banking framework for the widespread adoption of digitalised banking by FNB South Africa’s customers is the IBM digitized banking model because of its compatibility to South Africa’s demographics and market. The IBM digitised banking model considers numerous spheres of South Africa’s banking sector, as well as transition. The South African banking industry, policymakers as well as regulators contemplate efficient customer adoption of digitised banking services. Importantly, Dimakatjo’s study raises the following recommendations: Customer education and awareness, gather more demographic information, regulate and foster a secure environment for banking and increased coordination.
When asked about the journey, Dimakatjo credits her tenacity, commitment and willpower, and recognises that her “journey was one filled with all sorts of emotions, trauma, loss, grief, growth, pressure, sacrifices and celebration. My plan was to complete on record time (which I did). It was not easy separating personal life, career growth and academia.”
Yet, finding a balance and sticking to a plan while committing to tasks kept Dimakatjo committed. Additionally, having cheerleaders and a firm support structure was critical in this path, she adds. Positively, having emerged from the experienced, Dimakatjo says presently, “more than ever, I am determined to make a tangible impact. Not only in my life but in society. I’d love to live a remarkable legacy … I plan to be active and to participate in Curiosita Colloquium and Think tank dialogues. There are plenty of platforms to gain more and to share knowledge. This journey is never ending. I’d love to learn and engage other dynamic leaders in different industries and spaces."