HF GROUP’s digital transfromation takes shape

    Sam Waweru, MD, Housing Finance Group. Photo: Courtesy

    “Good is the enemy of great. And that’s one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.”-James C. Collins

    Locally, HF Group has made a name as one of the largest integrated financial service providers. From mortgage, real estate development to banking and insurance, the diversified group continues to positively impact the lives of millions of Kenyans every day through its subsidiary companies. Since its inception in 1965, the financial institution has grown to become the leading provider of integrated solutions for the acquisition, development and improvement of property in Kenya.

    Over the years, HF Group’s star has shone brightly. The group has completed multi-billion shilling projects, which have propelled it to the market leadership position in property finance and development. Despite the milestones, the institution is now raring to move from a Tier 2 bank to a Tier 1 financial institution. One of its key strategy to achieving this goal has been digital transformation, which it started in earnest in 2016 when it introduced a core banking system.

    The digital transformation journey seems to have gathered momentum as the institution introduces HF Whizz, a digital banking service accessible through a mobile app interface, that gives customers a simple and fast banking experience. It allows them to access and control their finances from anywhere, at anytime.

    With the HF Whizz App, you can manage your account, access instant loans deposit money into your account, transfer cash, pay bills, track your experience, buy airtime and do so much more on the go.

    HF Whizz marks the Group’s entry into the mobile lending segment, a rapidly growing and competitive industry.

    Its launch carries great significance to the financial institution as it will accelerate the group’s digital strategy.

    According to HFC Managing Director, Sam Waweru, the digital product brings together years of research and development and an expansive partner network. “It marks the advancement of the group’s strategic focus on digital banking. With HF Whizz, we are delivering value to our customers even as we show the technological benefits to our shareholders,” he says.

    HF Whizz seeks to deliver frictionless digital experience to HF customers. It also seeks to offer comprehensive business functionality and to drive the group’s profitability.

    With a mobile phone penetration of 90% in Kenya, and transactions of over Sh1.22 trillion in Q22017,HF Group sees opportunity in the digital space, the reason it’s angling for a piece of the pie. With HF Whizz, it has declared its interest to be at the forefront of provision of next generation financial services. Having invested heavily in innovation, the institution is keen to offer solutions that are convenient and easy to use.

    So, will HF Whizz be a roaring success? What does it mean to the financial services group?

    According to HFC Chief Information Officer George Njuguna, HF Whizz is a technology whose time has come.

    “We asked, how do we transform a company that has been so good to one that’s great in the digital space. The answer was HF whizz,” said Mr. Njuguna.

    To make the app a roaring success, Mr. Waweru says the institution intends to change its way of doing business. First, he says, there’s need to change the organization’s culture and strategy to focus on digital transformation. “There’s a lot of work going on about culture change and strategy and people are starting to see the small wins,” he says.

    Although the digital product was launched in July, the company has spent two years on research and development. HFC sees the product becoming a key business unit for the entire group.

    “We have a big vision of making this a Sh2 billion business in two years. We hope to impact one million customers .”

    Looking at their product, you can easily tell it was designed with the modern customers in mind. It’s now available to smart phone users, with all its digital features aimed at the youthful customer, micro entrepreneurs or anyone who wishes to experience flawless digital banking.

    The institution’s Chief Digital Officer Nancy Matimu says that they already have an integrated marketing strategy in place as they intend to take the product to the mainstream.

    “From billboards, to TV commercials to digital and social media, expect to see us everywhere,” she says of the institution’s go-to-market strategy.

    With the aim of becoming a top-tier bank by 2020, HFC has fully embraced mobile technology and embarked on strategic initiatives that will the business transform into a multidimensional digital financial services player.