With Onyeagwu, Zenith Extends Digital Banking Leadership

Donatus  Eleko

Zenith Bank Plc was recently named the “Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Nigeria” in the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2023, underscoring the bank’s pioneering and outstanding achievements in delivering cutting-edge digital financial solutions.

The Euromoney’s Awards for Excellence are one of the most highly coveted awards that matter to the banks and bankers who matter.

Established in 1992 as the first of their kind, the awards recognise excellence in the global banking industry, with this year’s edition receiving a record number of submissions from banks in the regional and country awards programme that covers more than 50 regional awards and best bank awards in 100 countries.

Zenith Bank under its Group Managing Director/CEO, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, blazes the trail in digital banking in Nigeria; scoring several firsts in the deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to create innovative products that meet the needs of its teeming customers.

The bank is verifiably a leader in the deployment of various channels of banking technology, and the Zenith brand has become synonymous with the deployment of state-of-the-art technologies in banking.

Today, the bank is globally celebrated as a relentlessly forward-thinking institution, consistently setting the benchmark for digital banking across the Nigerian and African banking sectors, according to a report by International Banker.

Built upon the three principles of people, technology and service, the optimisation of experience and satisfaction across its vast customer base inspires Zenith Bank’s digitalisation strategy, which delivers innovative solutions that are consistently ahead of the local competition.

The bank can proudly boast of having deployed several firsts in cutting-edge offerings that continuously satisfy evolving customer preferences and are thus pioneering the digital-banking revolution transpiring across the country—and, indeed, the continent—at present.

These innovations include the deployment of the first offsite automated teller machine (establishing an ATM in a location outside the bank’s premises in 2003), real-time online banking across its entire branch network, transaction notifications via SMS (Short Message Service) and email, an online payment gateway and QR (quick-response) code payment system.

Today, some of its internet banking solutions include the *966# Banking, which is a convenient, fast, and secure way for its customers to access their bank account and perform banking transactions via non-smartphone without internet connectivity. This service is available to all individual account holders with any feature phones that run on the GSM platform.

Also, the Zenith Bank Mobile App enables customers to get access to their accounts 24 hours a day from wherever you are. A quick download of the mobile banking app can transform customers’ smartphone into a powerful banking tool. The Zenith Bank’s Mobile App is a dual functionality app which bundles Mobile Banking and eaZymoney.

The bank has also made it easier for customers to request cheque books, transfer funds between accounts, pay utility bills and lots more.

Additionally, the ZenithDirect is the financial institution’s 24/7 Interactive Solution Centre that provides customers world-class service and an excellent banking experience. Its services are offered through a menu-driven self-service, phone interactions, social media platforms and via live interactions (chat) with well-trained customer service executives.

Another digital solution offered by the bank is the ZENITH e-Token App, a mobile application that generates One Time Passwords (OTPs) used in the authentication of electronic transactions.

Zenith Bank had also introduced an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered Chatbot on WhatsApp named ZIVA (Zenith Intelligent Virtual Assistant), which enables customers to perform financial transactions and enjoy real-time customer service from their mobile phones.

With ZIVA, customers are able to enroll by simply adding the bank’s verified WhatsApp mobile number 07040004422 on their mobile devices, agree to the legal terms of use and then initiate a conversation. This product provides the convenience for the bank’s customers to interact and transact on a 24 hours basis on the encrypted WhatsApp platform, it added.

With the capability to respond to chats/queries anchored on the existing WhatsApp platform, customers are able to open new accounts, receive instant transaction notifications, check their balances on the go, transfer funds and top up airtime.

They are also able to confirm cheques, pay bills, apply for loans, block their accounts, and request mini statements, amongst other banking services.

With a team of dedicated professionals, the bank leverages its robust Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to provide cutting-edge solutions and products through its network of branches and electronic/digital channels.

Zenith Bank has clearly distinguished itself in the banking industry through superior service quality, unique customer experience, and sound financial indices. These have become part of the bank’s corporate culture to the extent the bank is easily associated with the following attributes: Best-in-class customer experience, creativity, excellent financial performance, good asset quality, stable management, dedicated and highly skilled work-force, cutting-edge Information and Communication Technology, efficient and effective distribution channels.

The strategic objective of Zenith Bank also includes a continuous improvement of its capacity to meet customers’ increasing and dynamic financial needs as well as sustain high quality growth through investments that impact the quality of service to its existing and potential customers, constant upgrade of its ICT infrastructure, unwavering investment in training and re-training of its people and regular reinforcing of its customer services delivery charter with regards to continually changing customer needs.

Zenith Bank places high premium on the pivotal role of exceptional service delivery in its drive to consistently exceed expectations. The bank has in place a well-articulated strategy to not only meet and surpass customer expectations, but also ensure that plans are fine-tuned to address the changing taste and sophistication of the customer.

Speaking on the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2023, Onyeagwu, said, “We are delighted to receive the distinction as the Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Nigeria.

“This accolade serves as a validation of Zenith Bank’s trailblazing initiatives in integrating advanced technology within Nigeria’s financial services sector.

“Our commitment to expanding the horizons of digital financial services is unwavering, and we will persist in our efforts to innovate and deliver enhanced value to our customers and stakeholders.”

Onyeagwu dedicated the award to the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia, CFR, for his visionary approach to integrating technology into banking, establishing an exemplary model for service delivery at a time when the potential of technology in banking was yet to be fully realised. Onyeagwu remarked, “Technology now stands as the cornerstone of the financial services sector.”

Also speaking on Zenith Bank’s digital banking platforms in a recent interview with International Banker, Onyeagwu said: “Recently, we introduced an exciting digital solution: an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot, ZiVA. (Zenith Intelligent Virtual Assistant).

“This virtual assistant enables us to offer banking services on WhatsApp and, subsequently, on other social-media platforms. Leveraging artificial intelligence, ZiVA provides transactional services, such as bill payments, fund transfers, account openings, balance checks, dispute logging and other value-added services.

“ZiVA is tailored for existing and prospective individual account holders who have adopted WhatsApp as their preferred platform for online banking services. It offers a reliable, convenient and more “personal” medium for performing basic banking transactions on mobile devices, demonstrating the bank’s response to social-media banking.”

Onyeagwu noted that further underscoring Zenith Bank’s commitment to digital banking are the hackathons regularly hosted by the bank, bringing together much of Nigeria’s budding tech talent.

He stressed that Zenith Bank recognises the growth potential of the tech sector and thus actively fosters collaborations with tech start-ups that offer tailored financial solutions, creating value for customers.

The annual hackathon organised by the bank underscores its commitment to supporting budding entrepreneurs and start-ups.

It promotes collaboration, innovation, talent development and industry trends and generally contributes to economic growth. By facilitating interactions among professionals, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts in the tech industry, it aims to foster a community spirit and encourage the exchange of ideas and knowledge.

“This supports the axiom that neither banks nor fintech (financial technology) firms can fully leverage the potential of technology and innovation independently—collaboration is essential.

“This teamwork can lead to innovative solutions, partnerships and a thriving ecosystem that benefits the tech industry and cultivates a more digital economy for Nigeria.

“The previous hackathons, held in 2019 and 2022, featured prizes and business grant funding with a cumulative total of up to NGN81 million, marking it as the highest prize money for any bank-organised hackathon.

“Additionally, the bank provided grooming and mentorship programmes for the finalists, equipping them with the necessary skills, relevant networks and additional resources to scale their unique solutions and enhance their overall brands,” Onyeagwu added.

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