Ecobank’s Drive for Financial Inclusion

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With operations in 33 countries across Africa, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated’s consumer campaign ‘Move on Up’ is poised to penetrate and increase financial inclusion across Africa and also improve trade on the continent, writes Nume Ekeghe

The Ecobank Group recently launched a new consumer advertising campaign ‘Move on Up’ which is centred on the bank’s drive to ensure that consumers have accessible and convenient digital banking solutions across Africa. The strategy is to reach further deep into the 33 African countries it operates in by offering high end technology with various banking solutions and technology with an aggressive engagement with agent at competitively cheap rates.

Financial Inclusion Ambition
Speaking at the launch of this campaign at the bank’s head office in Lome, Togo, the Group Chief Executive Office, Ecobank, Mr. Ade Adeyemi said the group direction with the campaign was to bring banking solutions through an array of channels as well as bring banking to the doorsteps of unbanked customers.

Adeyemi said: “There are 350 million mobile phones within the space in which we operate, and there are 150 million mobile money account in the space in which we operate, our people alone cannot depend on mobile money alone which is just wallet, they need to have an account they can call their own on which they can save, make payment, get loan if they so desire.

“What is new is to be able to offer the whole array of Ecobank across all our network to people irrespective of how much they can afford. At the end of the day, there is power in being able to open the door of house of everybody that wants to come in. there is value in having a large number of participants.

“There is value in being able to make an undertaken for every African that knocks our door, we would open knowing that most people cannot come to use physically but most people can come to us electronically. Because the phones and mobiles that we have today, is already in their hand and our job is to enable them use it properly.

“What is happening in Kenya today is happening in other places today. But remember, what we offer is for it to happen across Africa almost instantly and that is how at the end of the day, we can get to a situation where we are all included. Financial inclusion today, is something we talk about and even in Kenya, not everyone is included. Our job, responsibility and aspiration are to find a way to include everybody.”

Expected Impact on Inter Africa Trade

Currently, Ecobank wide network gives merchants and business owners ease of conducting their banking across a lot of countries in the continent.
Speaking on how it would improve inter trade, Adeyemi said: “As you know, when somebody goes to the port of Mombasa to buy something, sometime he takes it to Nairobi to sell. But most times merchants take goods to Rwanda, eastern Congo, Sudan, Uganda, Burundi because those places are landlocked. And in all of those places I’ve mentioned, we are the only bank that can be on a continuum to allow you to be able to transact.”

Agency Banking
The group, which was one of the institutions that pioneered agency banking in Nigeria, said the move was part of its distribution strategy to take banking service to the doorstep of its customers.
Agency banking is expected to increase the bank’s retail distribution network by allowing it to provide basic banking services to its customers at cheaper rate than all its competitors.

Also speaking on this, Group Executive Consumer Banking, Ecobank, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan said: “The most important part of this campaign is the opportunity for every African across our 33 countries to have access to banking service.
“It is first access because of our network and because we are offering accounts now on digital channels either on a prepaid card, internet or on the mobile. With our network of ATMs, internet, Pos Mobile money, we are able to be present 24/7 to every African across the 33 countries were we are in.

“In the past, we would say before you come to open an account, you need a certain minimum balance, now we are going to use agents around who are not necessarily in the main branch who would be able to open an account for you. And you have your account on your mobile phone, through the internet and cards. Customers would be able to transact without going to the bank. Today, we have 6000 agents and we are recruiting more agents. It is about bringing the banking services to you.”

Cost Implication
Furthermore, commenting on cost, Akinwuntan said the price would vary across countries, adding that Ecobank would offer all their services at a cheaper and competitive rate.
He explained: “In terms of cost, we would introduce a particular account were as long as you maintain your money with the bank, you would have the lowest charge in the market. Of course we have to put it by each country, but the whole idea is to bring in as many people rather than saying you need to have CFA5000 or CFA 50,000. We want to attract customers and we would ensure that it is the lowest charge in the market.”