Banking Made Simple

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 Raheem Akingbolu appraises the heights the banking industry has attained as a result of various applications operators have deployed to boost mobile banking

Many things have changed in today’s banking operations. Like a journey, the industry had since moved from analogue to digital. To say technology and ICT have demystified most of the bottleneck associated with the olden days banking is like stating the obvious. This has given birth to development of different applications to make life easy for the banking public.

For instance, leading banks in Nigeria now have efficient mobile banking app, through which customers can send and receive money on-the-go. There is also the Automated Teller Machine, (ATM) that has helped banks to reduce crowd in the banking hall as well as making it possible for customers to withdraw outside banking hours.

However, eliminating the need to go to a brick-and-mortar bank to deposit checks may be the biggest benefit of mobile banking. It saves the time and hassle of having an employee travel to a local branch, making them more productive. For large enterprises where deposits are often distributed, such as companies with multiple offices or subsidiaries, mobile banking is now helping such companies to centralize processes.

Today, Mobile banking apps are improving speed and convenience for enterprises when it comes to paying bills and filling invoices. Even when on-the-go, financial professionals can ensure that accounts payable are always fulfilled.

Mobile banking in Nigeria

Since the beginning of this Mobile Banking regime, players in the bank industry have identified it as a major platform for positioning.  Again, bank customers now rate banks based on the effectiveness of their mobile banking applications. As a value added service offered by banks to enable customers conveniently and securely conduct their banking transactions on their mobile phones, mobile banking, has become the most popular product a bank can use to woo the youths and young professionals who want to transact on the go. After all, it gladdens the heart of anybody that subscribe to mobile banking to be able to  transfer funds and check his or her account balance and statement without having to visit your bank.

 

United Bank for Africa

At the unveiling of UBA’s mobile banking app last year, the bank’s Head of Digital Banking, Dr. Adeyinka Adedeji, had described it as being interactive, user friendly and easy to access. The mobile app which comes with the biometric log-in feature for secure and personalized access is now being downloaded on Apple and Google Play App Stores.

According to Nairametrics, a leading financial resource company based in Nigeria, UBA’s app is one of a kind; a very innovative, well-rounded application for its users. The company went on to state that the app doesn’t only care for online demands, the application is somewhat useful offline as well, specifically with providing short codes and answering basic questions on the application’s uses

Another area that has since been played up in the app is the ease at which customers can purchase airtime on the platform. Unlike other apps where you have to copy the phone number, the UBA app grants users access to their contact list from inside the app.

First Bank

As a pacesetter brand with eyes on the future, first bank laid the foundation for its mobile banking in 2015 with the launch of FirstMobile. However, between then and now, the app has since been reviewed and updated to meets the lifestyle of its customers.

The mobile banking app which is easy to use is another secure platform that allows customers to execute banking transactions and access lifestyle news content on the go from their mobile phones. The latest features that were incorporated into the app are; The Card-in-Control functionality, the Quick Response (QR) Code, the Transaction receipt and Save beneficiary functions. Among other things, the fact that it is easy to set up, its soft and inviting hues, are given the apps an edge in the market. Navigation is as simple as it gets with minimal clicks required to carry out common transactions like transferring funds or recharging airtime.

Above all, the decision of the bank to make the Personal Identification Number (PIN) for logging in to be different from that for transactions is a major innovation meant to improve the safety of using the app.

GTBank

Because of the bond between the GTB brand and the youth market, Guarantee Trust Bank, knew early enough that the platform would be another winning card. It worked. Riding on its 737 app, GTB has a total of 4 mobile apps. The previous three are GTBank (for mobile banking), GTWorld (for lifestyle) and GTCube (For Mobile Point of Sale for merchants).

As a youth centric brand, the bank has since leveraged many platforms, including sponsorship of a music video to projects the app and further assure its patrons that; “The simple life is just one touch away”

The relationship between the brand and the youth market is reflected on their app; as much as you can use the app to pay for bills, there is the addition of opportunities to indulge in social activities like paying for cinema tickets and the likes, which is a major plus for millennials.

 

Ecobank

The years 2017 was like the season of upgrading and review of mobile application for many banks. Though Ecobank joined the bandwagon, it was towards the end of the year after major operators had explored the platform.  Considering the bank’s status as a Pan African brand, many observers have expected it to launch earlier than it did.

However, its lateness is like blessing in disguise as the management of the bank must have taken time to study the market and learn from the hitches experienced by banks that first introduced similar applications.   The most important feature of this app is its ability to synchronise itself with phone’s data. With ease, Ecobank app is able to access customer’s contact list, short messaging features and other information that may be considered sensitive. It appears the application may, through customer’s phone dialing features, make direct phone calls to customer care.

As an instant and convenient way of banking via the mobile phone, the upgraded version of Ecobank Mobile App, is said to have attracted 3 million new customers in just 6 months, taking the total number of users to date to 4 million

Ecobank app builds on the core functionality that saw the original version applauded as a game changer for African banking by using digital technology to combat many of the financial inclusion barriers faced by those on the continent. This includes the dearth of rural branches, affordability of products, high transaction costs and minimum opening balance requirements

Because of the business structure of the Ecobank brand, its app is the first unified app delivered by any institution for use in 33 countries and it uniquely leverages the power of digital to deliver real convenience to customers.

Among other benefits, the App opens up opportunities for customers by allowing them to shop, transact and do business without cash. At scale, this will be transformational for Africa. Through its purchasing power and Ecobank’s partnerships with Visa and Mastercard, the Ecobank Mobile App will be an accepted means of payment.

Again, considering its removal of barriers to entry and affordable price points, it is believed that the Ecobank Mobile App will empower the consumer to be on the move

In a way, the bank has thus fulfilled its promise of creating relevant solutions for consumers. “With the Ecobank Mobile App, Ecobank customers can make and receive instant payments across 33 African countries. They can also pay in store with their mobile phones. This is genuine convenience delivered to Ecobank customers and consumers, generally,” the bank had stated in a statement.

Besides, by using Ecobank Masterpass QR technology and the fact that is accessible through opening of an Ecobank XpressAccount, which takes less than 5 minutes, the bank has demystified mobile banking.

Because Nigeria is a leading hub for entrepreneurship and technology for Ecobank, the bank has chosen Lagos to launch the Ecobank Mobile App.

Access Bank

Like other banks, Access Bank refreshed its mobile banking app with a set of new and exciting features last year. These additional features allow customers perform multiple functions including quick airtime top-up and funds transfer without signing on to the app. Customers can also initiate self-block and unblock cards on all channels; make domiciliary account transfers; reset forgotten PIN and make cardless withdrawals from any ATM.

Undoubtedly, the app eliminates a whole lot of unnecessary questions and on a very good day, transactions are very fast. The most innovative aspect of this app would be the transaction receipts which are usually produced at the end of every transaction. Of course, the live chat opportunity is also a plus for the bank.

 

Zenith Bank

Two years ago, Zenith Bank Plc.  launched a new mobile banking solution to make banking simpler and interesting. Through the bank’s *966# Eazybanking solution, which was launched to complement the effort of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to build a cashless economy and enhance financial inclusion, Zenith followed up with the introduction of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) banking solution that would enable people to perform financial transactions on all known mobile phones (Feature, Smartlite or Smart), without having to go on the net or download a mobile app.

One major attribute of the bank’s app is the simplicity of its interface. Many customers of Zenith bank believe that the app is easy to use and straight to the point.

 

Challenges

As beautiful as the various applications appear to be, they also come with their challenges. While some of these challenges are self -made, there are some challenges that can be traced to poor internet connection in the country.

According to Nairametrics, a leading financial resource company based in Nigeria one of the discouraging feature of some of the apps is the presence of distractive adverts on the apps. The company has also identified complexity and inability to log into the updated version of some of the banks’ apps.

Meanwhile, for some banks, there are general concerns relate to registration process, which many users claim is long, tedious and in many cases, simply does not work. 

Besides, banks that target the youth and young professionals are also discovered to have crossed 1 million download mark, faster than others.