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FirstBank Deepens Financial Inclusion With Largest Agent Banking Network, Empowers SMES
At present, there are over 86,000 banking agents across 772 out of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, a demonstration of FirstBank’s commitment to deepening financial inclusion and ensuring the unbanked are adequately catered for. In an interview with BusinessDay, Adesola Adeduntan, FirstBank’s CEO, noted that over N9.6 trillion had been processed through the bank’s agent network.
As he explained, FirstMonie agents have supported several government and NGOs’ cash transfers to the poorest of the poor in the rural areas. Additionally, selected FirstMonie agents in the rural communities are equipped with BVN enrolment devices; as such they are able to enrol and open accounts for rural dwellers that hitherto may not have had the opportunity to be included in the formal financial services system.
The bank’s commitment to providing access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) was also highlighted by the CEO, who hinged this on “their potential to impact the economy”.
He discussed the bank’s value adding solutions that have created a functional ecosystem for SMEs to thrive. The ecosystem includes propositions such as connection of the SMEs to talents and resources/cutting edge tools, access to business finance and market, capacity building opportunities and policy advocacy.
These are all aggregated on its SMEConnect platform as value adding products and services for easy access and at rates (prices) that are competitive and mostly discounted. The SMEConnect is a digital platform that allows the SMEs connect to FirstBank’s offerings from the comfort of their locations anywhere in the world.
This, according to Adeduntan, has been well received by the SME community as we engage across the country.
Culled from BusinessDay
UBA’s LEO: Celebrating Three Years of Revolutionised Banking Services
Technology has been a veritable gift to mankind, and over the years, it has been responsible for creating amazingly useful resources which put all the information individuals need at their fingertips. The development of technology has also led to so many mind-blowing discoveries, better facilities, and better luxuries, which has in-turn helped to improve lifestyle and standard of living.
When Mark Zuckerberg recognised UBA’s Leo at Facebook F8
For instance, through relevant technological development, the average individual has been empowered to shop online and carry out seamless transaction any time of the day or night from the comfort of his own home or business place.
To this end, forward thinking companies and financial institutions with eyes in the future who have been conversant with the new trend in customer behaviour, have painstakingly designed new products and services tailor-made to meet the growing needs of customers anytime anywhere.
It is bearing this in mind that Pan-African financial Institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, changed the face of e-banking in the African continent for the first time with the introduction of Leo – UBA’s Chat Banker. The idea of Leo, which was birthed in 2018, was to enable customers make use of their social media accounts to carry out key banking transactions with ease.
This is the first time ever that a financial institution in Africa evolved a one-stop solution to simplify the way customers transact, a key essential in today’s fast-paced world with demands for quick-time transactions and response.
With Leo’s help, customers have been able to open new accounts with ease, receive instant transaction notifications, check their balances on the go, transfer funds and airtime top up. Cheque confirmation, bill payments, loan application, account freezing, request for mini statements, flight bookings, airtime and data purchases, are some other services that the chat banking BOT has been helping customers to carry out since 2018.
And Leo, the Artificial Intelligent Bot which carries out seamless conversations with his customers – who he calls his friends by the way- has achieved this and more in its three-year existence; allowing users to carry out quick, fast and recurring transaction with ease from their popular social media accounts such as Facebook and Whatsapp.
No wonder the bank has earned a lot of laurels and accolades in the last three years confirming Leo’s global acceptance and recognitions, as pointed out by UBA’s Group Manging Director, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, some of which are:
‘Africa’s Best Digital Bank of the year’ by Euromoney; The Most; Innovative Bank of the year’ by International Finance; ‘Best Customer Engagement Tool’ by Africa Fintech; Pulse magazine rated Leo on WhatsApp as ‘The best WhatsApp Banking App’; ‘The Best Social Banking platform’ in Uganda; ‘Excellence in Automated Chatbot Initiative’ by Finnovex Awards; ‘Next Generation Class of 2019’ by CIBN; ‘Best Automated Chatbot Initiative, Application or Programme’ by The Asian Banker. The list is endless.
“The formulation of this product, is consistent with UBA’s Customer 1st philosophy, where we have been doing things not the way we like, but focusing on what the customers want, where they want it, and in the exact platform they want it; Uzoka explained. “At UBA, we have been continuously working with technology giants that have the global capacity to ensure not only seamless but also effortless banking for the millions of our customers across Africa; as all the bank’s subsidiaries in Africa have activated Leo to perform financial services for customers.
Continuing, he said, “Since 2018, Leo has been helping with most transactions and to deliver any form of banking services. And this has been highlighted more especially during the lockdown occasioned by the COvid-19 virus, as Leo assisted all its users on all major social media platforms to carry out all their banking activities without having to physically visit a branch. This, to us, remains an admirable feat because with Leo, the banking needs of our customers have become easy and simple – as simple as chatting”; Uzoka pointed out.
Within three years of operations, UBA’s Leo has recorded a number of milestones including opened a total of 390,756 accounts; achieving 2,169,384 subscribers; conducting a total of 9,605,703 transaction count worth a value of N81,530,918,868. Leo which has over 2.1m unique users has also generated over 20 million conversations and over 85 million engagements; with such impressive feedback and usage and remains the only AI BoT showcased at the F8 in Mark’s Zuckerberg’s opening remarks.
UBA’s Group Head, Digital Banking, Sampson Aneke, reiterated that Leo is not just a chat machine, but an artificial intelligence personality meant to address any type of banking concerns raised by customers.
“Leo has been operating a secure lifestyle banking platform on Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and IOS and Andriod to assist customers with their transactions while chatting with your friends and business partners. The security with this platform has been that for every transaction, a One Time Password (OTP) is generated to the phone number that is registered on your account,” he explained, and added that the bank is working tirelessly to improve LEO’s services to the customers in the coming weeks.
United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-one million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touch points, in 20 African countries. With presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance and ancillary banking services
AfCFTA: We Are Well-positioned To Make Payments Smooth For Our Customers – Ecobank Group CEO
The Group Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Ade Ayeyemi, has affirmed that the pan-African banking group is facilitating smooth and instant payments across Africa as countries start the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
Ayeyemi who made this assertion during an interview with the media recently pointed out that Ecobank has been able to effect international payment across the 33 countries where it operates on the continent through its Rapid Transfer platform. He reiterated that the bank’s platform can be scaled to accommodate other African countries under the AfCFTA based on their respective regulations.
According to the Ecobank Group Chief, the banking group is one of the key supporters of the AfCFTA which he believes will be of great benefit to both the continent and customers of the bank. “With this Pan-African exposure, the governments and our customers will re-evaluate their businesses to efficiently take charge of bigger opportunities. So, if you manufacture goods in Aba for the Nigerian market, you can now start thinking of how to expand your manufacturing capacity to be able to export across West Africa and also other African countries, not just looking at Nigeria as a market alone. And as you change your demand forecast, you need to now improve your capacity to produce and that will mean importing new machinery to expand your manufacturing base, develop bigger market and hire more people.”
He is optimistic that the introduction of the AfCFTA would curb the regulations and government policies limiting the flow of foreign exchange. “Banks will work with other banks like Afrexim Bank to provide a swift payment platform as Africa will be the first market for most African products. For instance, there is no need for Nigeria to import rubber from Malaysia when rubber is being exported by Côte d’Ivoire. It is better within the African space. So, there is a whole range of businesses that we are having conversations with our customers, the governments and the African Union, because of our pan-African presence.”
The AfCFTA which came into effect this January, aims at creating a single African wide market for goods and services. It will pave the way for rapid dismantling of impediments to cross-border trade leading to free movement of business, persons and investments across the continent, thus leading to the establishment of the Customs Union. It will bring together all 55 AU member states, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people. It is set to be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization In terms of numbers of participating countries.
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