Absa Bank Kenya has said the WhatsApp banking platform it launched last August is safe and secure, quelling fears that accounts could be hacked as it happened in India.
 
While many customers in Kenya were thrilled by the new style of banking, cyber security concerns arose after a Mumbai doctor lost $2,000 from his WhatsApp wallet, confirming that hackers have found fissuers of fraudulently withdrawing money from e-wallets linked to banks.
 
But the bank’s head of digital channels Andrew Mwithiga said sending and receiving cash via WhatsApp was secured under double encryption and internal cyber security measures, and that the online banking process is not vulnerable to cyber- attacks.
 
“We have put up stringent measures to make WhatsApp banking secure for everyone. We have several security layers on the platform,” said Mr Mwithiga.
 
Last September, Facebook, which owns WhatsApp added another layer of privacy and security to the platform with an end-to-end encryption option for the backups people choose to store in Google Drive or iCloud.
 
In October, after acknowledging security loopholes in the platform, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the addition of another element, with optional access restrictions using password or encryption key.
 
“No other global messaging service at this scale provides this level of security for their users’ messages, media, voice messages, video calls, and chat backups,” WhatsApp said in a statement on October 14, ten months after Tesla CEO urged the world to ditch WhatsApp due to its cyber security vulnerabilities at the time and instead use Signal,
 
With the new app that comes with an online banking assistant named Abby, Absa Bank Kenya seeks to ride on the new security updates and Kenya’s high penetration of fast internet, smartphone ownership and WhatsApp usage to pioneer social media banking in the country.

According to the Global Web Index’s 2020 Social Media User Trends Report, Kenya has the highest percentage of monthly WhatsApp users compared to the rest of the world, with 97 per cent of all internet users in the country active on WhatsApp.

Having launched a similar platform in South Africa in 2018, the bank is confident that its experience as the first African bank to venture into social media banking will enable banking to be accessible anytime and anywhere in a secure way.

The introduction of WhatsApp banking by Absa ushers the sector into the new age of banking which integrates transactional, conversational and personalized banking services in a seamless, fast and reliable manner.
 
“With this solution, each of our customers gets access to a 24/7 digital personal banker who can help them perform transactions upon receiving simple instructions on chat,” said Absa Bank Kenya MD Jeremy Awori.