Keeping up with mobile banking evolution

New and innovative technology is paving the way for smaller players to enter industries where previously only giants had the power to tread. At the same time, not keeping up with these fast and dynamic changes could result in many of these "giants" becoming obsolete.

An area where this is becoming more and more apparent is in the financial services industry, where the use of mobile devices is exploding across the banking, trading, and insurance markets – begging traditional banking organisations to evolve with market trends.

"Africa especially has witnessed the trend of mobile banking, due to the well-known fact that today more people on the continent have access to a mobile phone than electricity," says Anton Jacobsz, managing director of South Africa's leading value-added distributor, Networks Unlimited.

"Africa is also one of the fastest growing economies and regions for foreign direct investment in the world. With it being such a unique region with specific needs, it opens up myriad opportunities for both entrepreneurs and investors in the financial services market," he adds.

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Mark Kaigwais, a consultant, technologist and blogger based in Nairobi, Kenya, for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), confirms this, and says the mobile phone has evolved from a communications tool to a device on which much of Africa's economic aspirations rest. "Innovations built around the mobile phone have improved the population's inclusion in financial markets and have helped to work around the continent's infrastructure problems," highlights Kaigwais.

Only four years ago, the world witnessed 114 billion mobile banking transactions occur, highlighting the need for superior mobile security solutions to protect both customer and financial services institutions.

With the explosion of mobile banking in Kenya, Networks Unlimited recently introduced F5 to its partners and their customers in Nairobi, demonstrating how F5 solutions help organisations seamlessly scale cloud, data centre, and software-defined networking (SDN) deployments to successfully deliver applications to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

"People want to access their bank accounts in real-time, any time. In Africa especially, there is a trend to send money, and in a landscape that is often rural, mobile banking allows for the inclusion of people who were previously excluded from traditional banking. Financial services offering mobile devices must, however, also offer secure access across the range of mobile devices, ensuring that attackers and fraudsters are kept out," comments Simon McCullough, major channel account manager for the southern and eastern African region at F5 Networks.

He explains that F5 solutions are designed to help companies successfully navigate all of these challenges.

The F5 BIG-IP platform, for example, enables growth with a single, highly scalable platform that speeds performance, increases uptime, and delivers unified access control to enhance security, ensure compliance, and reduce costs.

"The F5 Solution to Mobile Banking recognises and tailors solutions to customers who demand secure, responsive and accurate mobile access to their financial services," says McCullough.

The F5 WebSafe solution helps financial services institutions protect against sophisticated fraud threats, leveraging advanced encryption, client-less malware detection and session behavioural analysis capabilities in a single solution. In addition, its MobileSafe solution helps to secure financial and e-commerce mobile applications against fraudulent transactions by detecting and disabling malware, rooted devices, SMS and form grabbers. A benefit is that F5's Silverline cloud-based application services, and the experts who manage them, let organisations rapidly deploy these enterprise-grade app services across hybrid environments, minus upfront investments in IT infrastructure and support.

F5 solutions also go one step further with customer segmentation, ensuring VIP clients have access to the resources and support critical to their business needs.

When using mobile apps, fast response times contribute to the highest level of customer satisfaction, and BIG-IP WebAccelerator provides a suite of optimisations focused on speed and efficiency. F5 TCP Express and device-targeted caching offer fast upload and download times, all while requiring low bandwidth thanks to TCP connection multiplexing in F5 OneConnect.

Continuous, consistent access through mobile devices is now the industry standard, and F5 delivers with BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager (GTM). "This enables financial organisations to balance server loads and provide high performance and tight security at any time of day, even amid constantly increasing traffic and bursts in demand," says McCullough.

Following the new technology trends, Networks Unlimited has made the decision to deepen its expansion into Africa, especially in the West and East African region. The company currently distributes its security and network solutions across 18 countries in Africa.

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