Apochi: Banks, Others Using Technology to Enhance Customer Experience

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The Founder and Director, PayAttitude, Mr. Agada Apochi, who is an organisational psychologist and change leadership specialist, in this interview speaks about how technology-driven solutions are enhancing customer experience in the electronic payment space. He also talks about the benefits of PayAttitude digital solution. Obinna Chima presents the excerpts:

During the recent public holidays, high transaction and network failures were experienced. As one of the stakeholders in the E-payment value chain how do you think we can overcome this perennial challenge?

One of the ways is to make payments easier and simpler for people; enabling people make payments with their personal devices. If you could go into a shop and the shop owner enters your mobile number into his phone and instantly, that way the value is exchanged and many problems are solved. The experience from the last Sallah holiday was unpleasant and we were not proud of it. So, the entire industry is working on it to make sure such things never occur again. Banks are the largest shareholders in the payment space. If you use PayAttitude, whether or not transactions are failing such persons would not have such problems and that is why industry stakeholders are doing everything to make transactions seamless while offering many other new technology- driven solutions to enhance customer’s transaction experiences.

What are these other options?
One of them is paying with phone number whereby people can exchange value with one another and get the result needed; it is also of interest because you can securely handle it through family and friends, your mobile number can be entered at a merchant location and where ever you are you will get a notification for you to approve and then the payment is approved and made.

This is the first of its kind because making payment globally, you are required to disclose certain details you would ordinarily not share at the environment you are doing the transaction and secondly you are required to enter your pin where you are doing your transaction. PayAttitude technology raises the bar by saying what the world considers sufficient today is no longer sufficient.

All you need to enter when you are performing a transaction is your mobile number and nothing else. If your pin is your personal identification number PayAttitude believes it should be entered only on your personal device which you have control of which means the risk of fraud is minimised or eliminated so these are new ways of doing electronic transaction. We are proud this is coming for Nigeria and we need to appreciate Nigerian banks for coming together to form Pay attitude.

But as more innovations are being introduced into the payment system, cybercrime appears to be on the rise. What do you think can be done to address that?

The single most important thing is the investment each operator makes concerning risk management and fraud prevention. This is because the weakest link is as strong as the strongest link. When cyber criminals want to attack, they look for the weakest link and once they can penetrate at that point it exposes industry operators and customers. So, we must continue to invest in risk management solutions that guaranty people would be able to transact with their eyes open and when they close it, they will not wake up to fraud.

That is what we are doing and every stakeholder in the payment space in Nigeria are doing everything to eliminate cyber fraud in the country. Also I can say proudly that Nigeria has one of the least ratio of crime concerning electronic payment. The perception out there is that Nigeria is filled with crime in the E-payment space, but Nigeria has one of the least ratios of E-payment globally and that is something Nigerians should be proud of. Our banks have always applied the best available technologies, including the chip and pin that has been made mandatory for several years.

Nigeria is the first country in the entire world to make it mandatory and eliminate magnetic scratch cards and we have moved on to the current state of technologies by deploying the first of its kind in the world, a solution that doesn’t require you entering your pin asides on your mobile device but rather your phone number when making transactions and yet you are still able to transact on traditional channels.

If you enter your mobile number on any channel while transacting and your mobile number is acquired by someone who wants to perform a fraudulent act like making payment with your mobile number, it will not work because the person doesn’t have any other valuable information asides your mobile number and when the transaction wants to be approved it has to be approved on your mobile device. But we need to feel comfortable as Nigerians while transacting; because it is safe to transact electronically. The rate of crime in terms of loss of cash is higher than loss to e-payments in Nigeria. So, the Central Bank of Nigeria, banks, payment solutions providers and stakeholders are doing everything to make sure Nigerians transact successfully.

Some believe the fintechs are threat to the banking sector, while others see them as enablers, what is your view about fintechs?

I see fintechs as enablers not threats. Any bank that embraces financial technology and works with fintech companies would be like the bank of few decades ago that embraced technology into its way of doing business. Any bank that fails to operate with fintechs due to fear or threat, that bank would one day become extinct. Imagine banking in the last two decades with technology, without using computers, extinction would be inevitable for such banks. As long as a bank is willing to work with technology it has to be willing to collaborate with financial technology providers who are there to enhance the performance of banks so as to provide the best customer experience for their customers and seamless transactions.

So, what is PayAttitude?
PayAttitude is a financial technology (fintech) that is owned by Nigerian banks and seeks to make payments easier for Nigerians. It delivers financial technology that focuses on the digital payment space. It focuses on how people can perform digital transactions using their mobile devices. It also depends on Nigerian-owned technology. So, the technology used and deployed by PayAttitude is owned by PayAttitude and that ends the tradition of us depending on foreign technology to provide our solutions. It is the first of its kind in the market to enhance our market and that is the beauty of having a Nigerian-owned company that leverages on internal technology because it understands the needs and problems of the Nigerian market. For now, our services are within Nigeria. However, PayAttitude has obtained patent for its technology in Nigeria and now it is seeking for its patent in other countries across the world.

Who are your target customers and can anyone subscribe to your solution?

The beauty is you do not have to go to any office to subscribe, wherever you are, once you have mobile you will be able to subscribe and do transactions without having to go to the bank.

How are you driving awareness to ensure more customers embrace the solution?

We are making use of different channels to ensure this happens. For instance, we are working with partner banks so as to reach their customers, we are offering this as solution to government agencies and institutions as payment solutions, we are offering this to various stakeholders and organisations that are involved in financial inclusion like banks and other financial institutions to see what they can do to the benefit of the Nigerian public.

The good thing is that people do not need a lot of lectures on usage. Once you know how to use your mobile devices you will be able to operate PayAttitude because the major thing it offers is the ability to do financial transactions across all channels with the use of your telephone number and mobile devices which you can do whether you are present there or at another location. For example, if you want to withdraw money at an agency outlet in a rural community you do not need a bank account.

All you need is your mobile device and telephone number, what you need to do is to give the agent your phone number and the agent inputs it in his own mobile device then automatically you will receive a prompt on your device and then you input your password on your device which will followed by you being debited while the agent’s account is credited and then you are given cash. Beyond cash, when you want to buy something from someone for as low as N100,000, you can make use of this solution which also helps us to achieve a cashless economy whereby we do not always need to go about with cash.

This solution is also delivered on mobile app and USSD, that means it is not only for those with smart phones or data. Once you have voice service at any location USSD would also work there. If you go to an ATM to withdraw money, all you need to do is enter your mobile number. We are working with various banks who are ATM owners and financial organisations that have agents to enable this for their agents. And the agents do not need a PoS device because the PayAttitude solution has turned the mobile device into a payment device.

For someone who banks with multiple banks in Nigeria, what are the unique selling points that would make such a person choose PayAttitude over other payment solutions by the banks?
We don’t mind people using solutions owned by Nigerian banks, PayAttitude is also owned by Nigerian banks, and we are working with banks to also enable PayAttitude on their features like mobile apps, USSD. The advantage PayAttitude offers is whether you are in your bank channel or you take the PayAttitude app or the USSD itself which is *569#, you would be able to enjoy the benefit of paying with your mobile number through every channel like PoS, ATM, web and person-to-person. So we collaborate with banks rather than compete and they have established and funded PayAttitude so as to make lives easier for Nigerians and achieve financial inclusion.

How does the platform work?
It allows you use your telephone number as a means of payment and authorises every transaction on your mobile device. That means every Nigerian with a handset can simply link his or her account with a PayAttitude or create a pre-paid account that can be funded. Thus, when you go to an ATM to transact, it would be your mobile number you need to input. The telephone has now become a remote control for financial transactions thanks to PayAttitude.

What is your outlook for the financial services industry for the rest of the year?

My outlook is that we will continue to see growth in adoption and penetration, financial inclusion would get better. People would get more comfortable using the digital payment solutions that we offer. Everyone that has a phone and functioning mobile number can make use of PayAttitude. So, I definitely see growth.