As mobility is the future of electronic banking, Dr. Yinka Adedeji, divisional head, Consumer and Digital Banking of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc., has disclosed the Bank’s unrelenting efforts to provide her millions of customers with improved and convenient channels for seamless transactions.
Adedeji has been with UBA Group for over a decade now, working as Divisional Head of Consumer and Digital Banking; Divisional Head, e-Banking; CEO, Afri-Pay Mobile Money, UBA Group; Director, Channels; Head Business Transformation; Strategist and Head e-Banking Managment.
He has rallied his team in developing the newest and e-payment channel called EmailMoni aimed supporting the Central Bank of Nigeria’s cashless policy, driving financial inclusion, making banking more convenient and secure for the banking public, among others. Peter oluka was there for Nigeria CommunicationsWeek and brings the excerpts:
E-Payment Sector in Last One Year
In the last one year, we have seen some very interesting changes that are positive in the market since the last year that we had encounter with the media to brief them on the development in the e-payment industry.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has removed the penalty that was hitherto associated with digital payment and collections. Initially, you would have thought the reason people were using or adopting electronic payment of cashless scheme was because of the penalty.
Interestingly, the adoption continues and it is even going faster which means that the adoption by the people of e-payment is beyond penalty; it also hinges on convenience of doing banking as well as security that comes with, not necessarily as result of the sanction.
So, without the central bank’s restriction, people are actually using e-payment which means it is the right time for cashless or electronic payment in the society.
At UBA, for instance, we have seen rapid changes so much that the deposit that comes into the bank is now about 70 per cent coming through digital channels, that is, all these instant transfers either by mobile internet; card transfer using transfer kiosks, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) is now about 70 per cent compared to 30 per cent that comes through the branches where people bring cheque and cash deposits.
The proportion that comes through digital channels, that’s is , Point of sales terminals, instant transfers through other channels either from ATM, mobile banking, Internet banking and the rest now constitute 70 per cent in terms of inflow of money into the banks as deposits.
The outflow which is actually payment by individuals is now over 80 per cent. Over 80 per cent in terms of transactions count because what we have seen is that people don’t lump their transactions anymore; they actually do individual transactions even though the average size of a transaction, as we have seen, is relatively smaller because people are breaking up their transactions because they know they can always do it 24/7.
These are new developments and they are very positive. This also, therefore, has to shape the way banking is done. You will see that there is less emphasis on building of bricks and mortals. It is not just in Nigeria but also across the globe. It also dictates the way we do our business across Africa.
Technologies to Ensure Resilient, Secure E-Channels
Well, let me state clearly here that the most important to us is the technology that would sit behind the transactions.
We all have just one phone, but if you imagine the kind of technology infrastructure that sits behinds to support all the transactions on your own phone, you will marvel.
So, the bank has really focused on putting a lot of resources into Information Technology infrastructure, the electronic payment infrastructure, security monitoring and protection of customers.
For UBA, our security infrastructure at UBA House on Marina is state-of-the-art and a benchmark for the industry.
If you look at our approach to the market, we know there are a lot of electronic payment and collection options. But everything is bounded on the fact that customers have an account with you.
So, the structure and organisation of UBA has transformed in that anticipation and changes that we have seen in the industry.
Before, consumer banking used to be separate. Digital banking used to be separate. But you will agree with me that there is no digital banking without consumer banking.
People have to open an account with you first; they need to know about your service before you now give them convenience.
Therefore, we want people to open account with the bank and then, we now give you the convenience that comes with. We want people to come to the bank because he has the convenience that comes with it.
But the account used to lead and convenience comes as addition. Convenience should be the reason why you come to the bank as customer and the bank has now re-organised.
The consumer and digital banking are now combined. The consumer banking digital banking roles have, therefore, been fused because with the changing landscape of banking system, they cannot exist exclusive of each others.
Now, we manage all these together, which means account opening that you have, the types of account that you open is now the responsibility of the Consumer and Digital Banking unit of UBA.
Not only that, even the remittances is changes from those days when you would need to go and queue, taking questions and answers.
We have seen transform into directly coming into your bank account going through switches, therefore, the method of remittances is changing and that is why we have brought evening together under consumer and digital banking.
In addition to that, collection is now part of the same group of consumer banking because collection is now beyond the manual collection at the branches.
Even when you are making collections such as payment of taxes, utilities such as your DStv, power and other stuff, it now beyond just paying cash at one branch and you select one bank. You have multi-banks options when you even to go the branch even though the lead bank van be one bank, that is also becoming digital.
The collections of fees for energy, Discos and other stuffs like that is now being seen happening through PoS terminals.
Now, we have them on all our channels where the banking is now extended to all those payments that you do.
Before, when mobile and Internet banking first started, it is to see your account, then, we extended it to transfers within the bank then to inter-bank.
Now, more can be done as you can but airline ticket, you can do bill payment irrespective of the biller and now beyond that, you can even do airtime vending.
You even pay for Internet data and bills for either pre-paid or post-paid. There are more transactions features that are now making banking more interesting which are reasons why many people may want to bank with a bank because those services that make transactions more convenience for them can be provided safely and simply. For us, we balance this from the angle of product.
Convergence and Fusing Consumer & Digital Banking; Deepening E-Channels Adoption
Because we have put all units that belong together to work as one entity and under one umbrella, our bank, for instance, is now focusing on simplifying the way by which your initiative financial relationship with our bank.
We are looking at the directions that the Central Bank wants to push. We are also aligning with all the regulators’ rules in the other countries where we have operations across Africa to see how we can push account opening having access to financial services more easily through creation of capacity or through collaboration with the people that are deeper in the grassroots cadre, particularly people that are doing agency banking to see how we can work with them to drive financial inclusion.
These, all being together, you would have seen that at UBA, there has been some capability and introduction of ability to open account online.
You can open account online while BVN can be completed when you come to the banking hall. If you already have an account with the bank, it is easy to just create another account either for your dependants or for any special purposes. Very soon, we would also create account opening process for online using the USSD to able to create new accounts.
There are multiple names of account today and we are trying to simply it and make it easier for people to have transactions with us.
CBN New Policy On Cheque Lodgement into Savings Accounts: Expected Benefits To SMEs
Thanks to the central bank in Nigeria, as they have allowed us as bankers to service the country better.
The BVN actually makes banking easy, each customer become unique. Now, you are allowed to accept cheque of up to N2 million per day into your savings account.
You can look at it as something minor but I can tell you that it is a major change if you think about.
You can run businesses having a savings account. While the CBN has introduced this ‘cheque deposits into savings account’ initiative over a month ago, I don’t think the benefits have been well communicated. It is a good thing.
For instance, if you get your dividend cheque and other suchlike, you can just use your savings account, given the fact that you have BVN on your account.
It is a beautiful thing and it makes banking more convenient. It allows the old cheque method should be integrated to the inflow that is electronic now. If you really think about, over 95 per cent of Nigerians probably receive cheque of N2 million per day.
For SMEs, people that run businesses, people that run schools, they don’t receive more than a cheque of N2 million per day and this is a blessing. Majority of them actually come through electronic channels anyway. So, having this initiative is a plus.
CBN’s Improvement on the Amounts of Deposit People Can Receive on Low-KYC Accounts
The ability to open accounts or really engage people that are not banked already is increasing. Ability to use your existing account more productively, using instant transaction is increasing.
The capacity to accept payment is also increasing. For the low Know Your Customer (KYC) account, the central bank also recently improved the amount you can receive for transaction per day from N20,000 to N50,000.
That is very good. When you want to pay salary, you know is ought when you want to pay salary where most people are earning more than N20,000. So, this now makes it easy to use those low KYC accounts to receive your salary or a benefit that is as high as N50, 000.
The total account balance that you can receive into that account before you elevate your KYC is now N300, 000 increased from N200, 000 before.
That is very good and, therefore, it is more encouraging for people to open an account when they know they will get all these, even students benefits are now getting more than N20, 000. Look at money to their kids every semester, now students accounts can receive up to N50,000 at a transaction.
This is beautiful. So, the extension of the ability to do this being under the same umbrella as our commercial strategy is actually very god and we are exporting this capability across Africa as well and that is why in Africa, UBA is actually rated as changing the landscape of doing the banking in the continent and it is very god for us because we haven’t built a lot of brick and mortals in those places but we are using electronic channels to really penetrate in those countries where we operate in addition to Nigeria.
Back in Nigeria, as we increase the number of account in the country – I think the UBA has over 10 million accounts – across African countries where we operate. In Nigeria, we have over eight million of the 10 million accounts. The CBN is actually encouraging banks towards financial inclusion and is actually giving hem he drive to simply account opening and methods. With this, we believe we would go very fast in the coming year.
Our strategy is very clear; I think we are consolidating on how we play in this market. We would focus heavily on really driving account opening as well as increasing the transactions types you can do on your bank accounts.
In essence, we are looking at driving transactions as a means of actually driving the bank, instead of the traditional method of always raising deposits and waiting for credits.
We realised that we really want to make banking very important through making transactions very simple and safe to enable you do transactions any time of the day securely using all the methods we have put in place.
Strategies to Ensure Increased Usage of ATMs, U-Mobile/Internet Banking
We have increased the flexibility on our mobile banking applications as well our Interne banking applications, U-Mobile.
Now, we call it exactly what it does- UBA Mobile Banking. We also have our UBA Internet banking, which we call Direct Banking. That is now also on mobile. You can log in through web address and we also have it an app now.
So, you will see that all our services are now becoming applications. For those that have tokens to securely do their transactions, it used to be physical; it is now an app for us now, all in an effort to make it much simpler.
At the beginning of the year, we challenged ourselves that amount of transactions going through mobile or Internet banking will equal that of ATM transactions volume by end of the year.
Surprisingly, the ATM volume is already inching about N100 billion a month - of cash- that we dispense over 8, 500 ATMs in Nigeria.
Now, through this, Internet and mobile applications, we have now crossed over N50 billion a month. So, by really increasing security on our channels and making the adoption much easier, we have achieved that and by end of the year.
That is in terms of penetration of these channels and it is going o grow faster giving the fact that we simplifying transactions.
Adoption of smartphone is increasing, meaning that there would still be a lot of transactions that will go through mobile going forwards. So, for us, we believe mobility is the future of electronic banking and we are preparing for this every second.
Latest E-Payment Innovation from UBA
Yes, EmailMoni is our latest innovation and it is the world’s newest game changing technology and will dramatically advance the payments landscape in Nigeria and across Africa.
EmailMoni is a next generation payments technology that enables people and businesses to securely send and receive money electronically in real-time and at low cost using a downloadable mobile smartphone app or from a web app.
The EmailMoni web app can be accessed from any mobile device, any browser or any type of internet connected computer.
EmailMoni allows people and businesses to pay and receive electronic payments securely in a number of easily accessible and convenient ways. Users can send and request money instantly using Microsoft Outlook email, or any web mail.
Money can also be securely requested and sent using Facebook, SMS text and other methods. Available on iOS on the Apple App Store and for Android on Google Play, the EmailMoni mobile app for smartphones will over time, interact with a card-less ATM network using Quick Response Code enabling cash to be deposited and withdrawn from the system at thousands of ATM locations in Nigeria and across Africa.
EmailMoni will enable faster more efficient payments for UBA customers who are billers, such as cable and utility companies.
Customers can also send and receive secure payments instantly and conveniently, while non-bank customers will be able easily access UBA banking and payment services. We are proud to open a new frontier for e-payments in Africa with EmailMoni.
This conforms with our desire to continuously deliver innovative and convenient payment options to our customers.
Our innovations in the digital banking space have been possible because of our huge investments in building efficient, trustworthy platforms.
We assure our customers that we are committed to continually bring the best in the financial technology space to ensure they always have the best and most convenient banking experience with all our service channels.