Following the set out of a new digital strategy by the Eswatini Development Finance Corporation (FINCORP), First Finance Company, a subsidiary wholly owned by FINCORP has followed suit to enhance customer experience.
While FINCORP provides access to financial assistance to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), First Finance offers primarily General-Purpose Loans (GPL) to civil servants, parastatals, and selected private companies.
The company has consistently experienced a phenomenal demand for loans since its inception in 2010. Despite the challenges attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the 2021 financial year, First Finance disbursed over E1 billion into the pockets of Emaswati. This astronomical amount represents loans held by employees from both the private and public sectors.
In a continuous bid to expand its mark and meet the evolving needs of clients, First Finance has launched a new strategic framework whose implementation is driven by four key pillars; technology/digital transformation, improved portfolio quality, product diversification and accessibility, and human capital management.
First Finance General Manager Thulani Dlamini said there were mainly three reasons as to why the company is ready for digital transformation. “We are driven by the market we operate in, our own workforce, and the desire to not to be only good, but great.”
Dlamini said the market First Finance operates in is a tough one. “But over the last few years, we have made great strides to grow our business. However, markets continue to change and the digital revolution requires us to offer our customers the solutions they are looking for.”
“In its over a decade history, First Finance has constantly adapted and transformed to meet the requirements of its customers and changing markets, so it is logical for us to invest in new technology as it is developed. We firmly believe that digital transformation will play a positive role in the future dynamism of the company.”
Over the five-year period beginning this year, First Finance aims to launch initiatives to empower its workforce with new methods and tools to do business, introduce a more connected experience with customers and seek partnerships across the value chain.
Asked about factors that influenced the business’ decision to prioritize digital transformation, Dlamini cited customer experience and satisfaction as their leading influences.
“Today, customers expect relevant content in relation to what they are doing anytime, anywhere, and in the format and on the device of their choice. It is their journey that dictates our strategy. And to keep up with this new kind of always-connected customer, we must embrace technology to deliver an unmatched customer experience. Putting the customer first is at the center of our new strategy.”
With the new strategy, Dlamini said they will be changing the way the business interacts with its customers and how they provide their customers with a consistent experience whenever and wherever they need it. For instance, he said digital transformation will enable First Finance to personalize customer experience and offer a seamless multi-channel experience.
First Finance holds on to responsible borrowing, lending philosophy
In its new five years strategy, First Finance has continued to adhere to its philosophy of responsible borrowing and lending aimed at building markets and offering varied financial services in the most prudent, ethical, and responsible manner.
The company’s focal financial operations include; education loans, car loans, home improvement loans, emergency loans, debt consolidation, and invoice discounting.
First Finance General Manager Thulani Dlamini said they do everything they can to avoid lending more money than a borrower can reasonably repay, or avoid lending at all to a borrower who has shown a repeated tendency to borrow in excess of ability to repay.
He further advised customers who have experienced a loan rejection or can’t get the amount they have applied for, rather than taking it personally, to understand that it is a measure to protect them as well as the lender. “We have a responsibility to make sure borrowers understand the details of a loan and carry out thorough checks on borrowers so that we can be confident that what customers will receive will be suitable for their circumstances.”