Driving Transformation Through e-Payment

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Innovations in the electronic payment space will help drive Nigeria towards a cashless economy, writes Peter Uzoho

The dynamic nature of emerging markets creates challenges that have never confronted the developed world, but also opens up opportunities for innovation and growth.

According to a report by PwC titled: ‘Emerging Markets: Driving the payments transformation’, payment is an area where such dynamism is already well-established.

Therefore, the global professional services firm in the report, posited that over the next 10 years (and beyond), there would be faster changes in the payments landscape, building on the accelerating growth in electronic payments and the advent of new and disruptive market players.

And Nigeria and other emerging markets are expected to be at the forefront of this payment transformation. That is because emerging markets are home to 85 per cent of the global population and nearly 90 per cent of people under 30 reside within these countries.

Given the demographics, these markets are currently finding themselves at a ‘sweet spot’ where population trends favour the growth of online transactions, which are in turn curtailing the black economy and stimulating economic growth. To meet the need for financial inclusion, there has been a rapid expansion of new technologies and innovations, which are helping to make it more economically viable for banks to reach the ‘unbanked or ‘underbanked’ populations.

Clearly, the advent of information technology, as exemplified by computers, mobile phones and other communication devices, has significantly revolutionalised the financial system globally. And as the digital revolution catches-on with its ample opportunities, people now conveniently and successfully carry out financial transactions on the go or in the comfort of their homes by visiting secure websites and apps that have been developed and maintained by banks and other financial institutions.

Indeed, a large number of Nigerians, especially the youths who are becoming more technology savvy, have continued to adopt and prefer electronic banking (e-banking) and payment (e-payment) offerings, as their information technology knowledge and its value-addition grow. This development has no doubt, gone a long way to ensure the success of the cashless and financial inclusion policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). For instance, the recent results of the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) survey, regarding access to financial services in Nigeria, reveal that the number of adults that operate one form of bank account or the other rose to 46.9 million, compared to 45.4 million in 2014.

One of the leading commercial banks, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), as an inclusive lender and leader in financial services delivery in Nigeria, has continued to dictate the pace and expand its service channels in the provision of world-class electronic banking offerings and solutions that align with the lifestyles of its existing and potential customers.

Over the years, the bank has developed cutting-edge and bespoke products and services for its customers at all touch points thereby enhancing their experience.

According to a report from the bank, by achieving this, FCMB has taken its franchise to greater heights.

“The bank is known for providing one of the best alternate channels banking services cutting across ATMs, mobile and internet banking. The bank is among the first to deliver on-the-spot ATM cards, including Visa and Mastercard, issuance in Nigeria.

“These achievements are due to the lender’s electronic banking platforms that ensure secure, convenient and seamless solutions, which have been deployed in driving its retail, corporate and commercial banking businesses,” it added.
Last year, FCMB upgraded its information technology infrastructure to the new generation Finacle 10 Core Banking solution from the Finacle 7 version to further demonstrate its commitment to world-class banking services.

The advanced service-oriented architecture (SOA) of Finacle 10 has enabled the bank to optimise its processes, enhance system capability, scalability, security, service delivery, turn-around time and overall performance.

Rising use of electronic banking channels
Also, FCMB’s mobile and online banking enrolment as well as number of active customers using both channels have been on a steady increase.

For instance, the number of active customers using its mobile banking platform, grew by 92 per cent between January and July 2017. Similarly, active customers on FCMB online rose by 83 per cent within the period.

“In terms of Point of Sales (PoS) transactions, FCMB now ranks as the bank with the third highest transaction volume in Nigeria with an average monthly count of 1.4 million. With the mobile banking and internet banking alternate channels, customers of the bank now carry out banking transactions at anytime in a hassle-free manner without having to step into the banking hall.

“These include, checking account balance, funds transfer to loved ones and business associates easily within FCMB and other banks, purchase of airtime, payment of DSTV, GOTV and PHCN bills, viewing mini account statements, carrying out cardless ATM and other transactions round the clock.

“The FCMB online business version is another internet-based service of the bank designed for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and other corporate organisations. This is also an online real-time solution that allows such businesses, round the clock access to their FCMB accounts as well as the opportunity to manage their finances anywhere and anytime with the aid of an internet-enabled device,” it added.

In another move to support the growth of small and medium scale enterprises and the success of the cashless policy initiative, the bank developed a virtual collection platform, known as MCash. This solution allows merchants to securely process payments in a seamless manner on a mobile phone via a unique identification code, called merchant Code, which is generated upon sign on and instantly mapped to the merchant’s account.

For instance, to make payment through the FCMB MCash platform, all that is required is to dial *402*Merchant Code*Amount#, choose the account to be debited from a displayed list and send to the beneficiary.

In the same vein recently, FCMB again raised the bar in e-banking by introducing a new instant account opening platform, which can be completed within four minutes with the new customer’s account number immediately generated. To open the account, all a prospective customer is required to do is to visit the bank’s website through a computer or mobile phone, download the online account opening form, fill his or her details and submit.
To complement the internet and mobile banking offerings, FCMB equally has a suite of card (or plastic money) products designed to meet the lifestyle of users.

This array of branded electronic payment cards are used to make payments for goods/services on point of sales terminals or merchants’ websites as well as cash withdrawals from ATMs. The bank issues both naira debit cards (which come in the form of MasterCard, Visa and Verve) and foreign currency cards. The Visa and Mastercard, with the Personal Identification Number (PIN) of the customer, are issued instantly upon account opening at any of the Bank’s branches. This makes FCMB one of the few Banks that deliver on-the-spot cards issuance.

Assures to Deepen e-Payment Market
Commenting on its performance in electronic banking, the Managing Director of FCMB, Mr. Adam Nuru, said that the bank will continue to make banking more exciting and rewarding. He explained that the feat achieved so far was inspired by the bank’s quest to ensure that all segments of the population, especially the unbanked and the under-banked, embrace mainstream banking services.

“We are conscious of the needs of our target market and the evolving dynamics of the society with an increasing technology savvy population. We will continue to leverage on our robust e-banking platforms and opportunities provided by digital channels to bring greater convenience and consistency of experience to our customers. These will further consolidate our position as an inclusive lender,” Nuru assured.

With a clear understanding of its market and environment, FCMB is well positioned to create more value for its growing customers and other stakeholders.