Banking Made Easy

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In order to ease financial transactions, most banks are investing in diverse technology channels and solutions to enhance customer experience, writes Emma Okonji

Driven by passion for financial technology in a cashless economy, most banks have opened up more technology channels that will enhance ease of financial transactions among bank customers.

First Bank of Nigeria Limited, for instance, has carefully studied the trends in the financial sector and has rolled out several technology channels and solutions to boost customer experience.

Recently, the bank created exciting new features on its FirstMobile application to enhance security and customers’ digital banking experience. The new features are: The Card-in-Control functionality, the Quick Response (QR) Code, the Transaction receipt and Save beneficiary functions.

The features, which are unique to First Bank, bring a lot of ease to financial transactions on the First Bank platform, making it a truly digital bank with focus on future technology that will shape financial transactions in the country.

Building on innovation

Technology evolution has compelled financial institutions in the country to become more innovative in order to survive competition in the technology world. The innovation has, however, become more pronounced, following the emergence of Financial Technology (FinTech) players that are currently disrupting old ways of financial transactions across all financial platforms.

In order to expose its customers to new technology innovations in the banking sector, First Bank, in partnership with Visa, recently launched its mVisa mobile payments solution. The solution allows customers pay for goods and services by scanning a QR code using a smart phone via the FirstMobile App. Payment goes straight from the consumer’s FirstBank account into the merchant’s account and provides real-time notification to both parties.
Customers with the FirstMobile app can make payments from their FirstBank accounts at merchants’ locations where mVisa logo is displayed.

Giving details of the app, the Group Head, E-Business, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Chuma Ezirim, said the bank would continue to put customers first by leading the industry in the use of technology to provide convenient and fast banking solutions. Partnering Visa to deliver mVisa is part of the First Bank’s strategy to deliver reliable, secure and convenient payment options to its esteemed customers. It further promotes our digital approach by delivering omni-channel experience to all our customers, while enhancing our existing offerings,” Ezirim reiterated.

Speaking at the launch of mVisa, the President of Visa, sub-Saharan Africa, Andrew Torre, said: “We are thrilled to have FirstBank as one of our key partners in bringing mVisa to Nigeria. Consumers and merchants will experience the speed, convenience and security that mVisa brings when making everyday purchases.”

The mVisa is a payment solution fully integrated into the Firstmobile app to support business transactions and lifestyles of FirstBank customers. Existing users of the Firstmobile application can update their banking app from Google Play store, Blackberry World and Apple store to enable them access the service, while FirstBank account holders who do not have the Firstmobile app yet can simply download the app and begin to enjoy the service instantly.

Aside the FirstMobile app, the bank also launched its website to further enhance its service delivery to customers.
The new website is adaptive and responsive and has a multi-real estate billboard homepage with one-click access to information.

The website is feature rich with mortgage and loan calculators, a currency converter and a Google maps integrated branch locator. Built for the digital age, it is easy to access and navigate for the average multi-screen user. Visitors to the website can find any information they seek on the website in few minutes simple clicks. Its mobile enabled features make it perfect for the always on-the-move generation.

Building on global technology evolution

Satisfied with the innovative experience that the new website is creating for the bank customers, the bank said the new website is considered a unique evolution for the lender in terms of information and interactive services available for customers, investors, shareholders and the global community.

Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, First Bank, Mrs. Folake Ani-Mumuney, announced that the site, which is a quantum leap from the old website, can be accessed via the new URL https://www.firstbanknigeria.com from any internet enabled device with a functional browser. Speaking further, she said: “The launch of refreshed website comes in line with measures that the bank has taken to execute its digital banking strategy that aims to progress all facets of the its activities in line with global best practices.”

She further explained that FirstBank has benefited from modern technology tools to ensure a solid technical foundation for the new site, which would see continuous enhancements in the coming months to enhance the effectiveness of its operations and provide all key information needed by customers, investors and other visitors of the website to make investment decisions and have a better customer experience.

Driving financial inclusion, convenience

As the banking business evolves, First Bank has remained committed to empowering the Nigerian populace with the *894# Quick Banking service as part of its financial inclusion drive. The service is set to deliver the power to bank anywhere and at anytime. It is quick, convenient and easy to use and beneficiary accounts are credited instantly with alert notifications. Built on the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) technology, the *894# quick banking service transmits information through GSM network channels via mobile phones.

USSD technology facilitates sessions of communication that can be used in various areas of life including banking. The *894# USSD service makes banking services available across all GSM networks, on any type of handset or device; iphone, Android, Blackberry and even simple feature phone famously referred to as ‘kpalasa’. It requires no internet service connection and can be used in remote locations across Nigeria. This USSD service is delivered on the customers’ registered phone numbers linked to their First Bank accounts.

With *894#, the mobile phone has become a mobile branch.
With the solution, customers can transfer money to First Bank and other banks in Nigeria; buy airtime for themselves and their loved ones, check account balance on their phones, and do lots more wherever they are.
With the solution, banking transactions can now be performed on the go irrespective of location or time as there is no worry of internet connectivity or a token device, but only a Personal Identification Number (PIN).
Launching soon on the *894# Quick Banking service bouquet are: the utility bill payment, payment for goods and services at any retail store in Nigeria, opening of savings account and linking customer BVN to the new accounts.

Financial solutions as enabler

Speaking on the working principles of some of the bank’s latest solutions and payment channels, Ezirim said the Card–in– Control functionality on the FirstMobile App, empowers customers to be in control of their accounts and prevent unauthorised usage of cards. The Card–in–Control Service allows customers to determine alternative channels such as ATM, POS and Online. Customers are to go to the card management service, under the ‘self-service’ menu on First Mobile to disable or enable any of the features, Ezirim explained.

He described the Quick Response (QR) payment solution on the FirstMobile App as flexible payment system that allows customers to pay for goods and services by using their phone cameras to scan QR codes at merchant locations or uploading a QR code on a smart phone via the FirstMobile App. Payment goes straight from the customer’s First Bank account into the merchant’s account and provides real-time notification to both parties.

“The transaction receipt feature enables customers generate receipt after a transaction on the FirstMobile App. The feature overrides any concerns around the confirmation of transactions as receipts can either be saved to the mobile phone gallery for future reference or shared directly with recipients of each transaction via email, WhatsApp, among others,” Ezirim said.

Also incorporated into the FirstMobile App is the ‘Save Beneficiary’ feature, where customers can save beneficiary details for later transactions. This eliminates the arduous task of searching and importing beneficiaries’ details for every transaction.

Other features on the FirstMobile App include the domestic funds transfers; airtime purchase for self and others on all mobile networks; bill payments; cheque services; flight booking; and quick account services such as account balance inquiry, statement view and much more.

The cashless initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria is driving banks to become more innovative, and First Bank is leaving no stone unturned in providing the right payment channels for its technology savvy customers.