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How FirstBank is Making Customers Stay-Connected Through Its e-Channels

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Folarin is a smart entrepreneur who is in touch with technological advancement and the digital age. He has different apps on his mobile phone which he uses to organise both his business and private lives. He has a food app which he uses to order for his breakfast and lunch, he has another one that takes care of his love for music and another which he uses to manage his transactions online without stepping into a bank. He tells me, his bank is forward looking and futuristic enough to make banking easy for him and his clients.

 

“I have been banking with FirstBank since I was in school as an undergraduate, says Folarin. My mum opened the account for me. That was where she sent my monthly allowance. After school, I didn’t close the account I simply continued with the tradition.”

 

It was not difficult for Folarin to decide he would open his corporate account with FirstBank when he started his business a few years ago. He says the ease at which he gets his transactions done on FirstBank’s application, FirstMobile, endears him to the bank.

 

“I can do many transactions with FirstMobile. I can do bank transfers, check my balance, receive alerts on any transaction I do. There is also a beneficiary section that enables me save the account numbers of people close to me for future transactions.”

 

The FirstMobile App has over the years offered succour to FirstBank customers.

 

Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, FirstBank says “FirstBank wanted a truly branchless experience for its customers and thus enhanced the app to deliver an instant, remote, self-enrolment feature. Hence, in 2015, onboarding process on FirstMobile was improved with self-service feature; empowering customers to remotely complete their onboarding process on the App without visiting a branch.”

 

In addition, Chuma Ezirim, Group Head, e-Business, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said the soft token was also launched to satisfy the needs of customers who did not want to carry the hard token about. “It serves the same purpose as the hard token but provides the advantage of convenience and mobility as it is installed in the customer’s mobile phone,” he noted.

 

Another interesting digital service platform by FirstBank is the FirstBillsPay, a biller aggregator platform. It aggregates various billers through a secured connection to the bank, to avail its customers a single payment point for all bills from their accounts.

 

“In addition to FirstMobile and FirstBillsPay is FirstCheckOut. This is an additional payment option that can be integrated to merchant website that will allow customers pay bills directly from their bank accounts as a substitute to cards. We also have the 894 USSD Quick Banking service as part of our financial inclusion drive. The *894# USSD service makes banking services available across all GSM networks, on any type of device, anywhere and at any time; this gives it a unique selling point,” explained Ezirim.

 

There are also the Emerging Channels (USSD Collections, mCash, MVISA). These platforms are to ensure FirstBank gets its customers connected in a seamless way in the digital driven age.

 

“Our FirstBank mVisa is an innovative mobile payment solution that allows consumers to pay for goods and services via FirstMobile by scanning a QR code using a smart phone or by dialing a USSD number on a phone. Payment goes directly from the consumer’s account into the merchant’s account and both parties get real-time notification. The USSD Collections allow merchants to receive payments from customers simply by using 894 USSD string for FirstBank customers. The focus segments for USSD Collections are Manufacturing/FMCGs/ Value Chain Businesses, Petrol Stations, Network Marketing Companies, Transporting Companies, Churches, Schools and others,” says Ezirim.

 

Furthermore, FirstBank Agent banking was launched towards the end of 2017. The bank recruited Firstmonie Agents and empowered them to carry out basic financial services within their vicinity. Firstmonie Agents are literally human extensions of almost all the banking activities, they are strategically positioned within communities with large population of unbanked and underbanked individuals. With the large network of Firstmonie Agents spread across the length and breadth of the country, financial inclusion is significantly promoted by FirstBank.

 

Now, the new kid on the block for FirstBank is the chat banking on WhatsApp. With this, FirstBank’s customers can leverage on the real-time messaging capabilities of the WhatsApp Business solution to check their account balances as well as perform simple banking queries.

 

“Customers’ expectations are constantly changing and it’s our duty as a customer focused bank to ensure that our customers are provided with the means to carry out banking services through any channel they desire,” says Ezirim. “We are constantly seeking new ways and opportunities to meet customers at their preferred touch points and we understand our customers are actively engaged on WhatsApp.”

 

With FirstBank chatbanking on WhatsApp, it is not just about staying connected with friends and loved ones, but also keeping in touch with FirstBank anytime and anywhere you are.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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E-Financial

Global Accelerex, Indigenous ‘android PoS’ Firm Eyes Africa-Wide Expansion

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The financial technology firm behind Nigeria’s first android POS terminal, Global Accelerex, is looking to expand across sub-Saharan Africa after its record operation in Nigeria.

 

Global Accelerex was awarded “Cashless Driver: PoS Transactions” by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) after it achieved highest volume of POS transactions on behalf of client banks last year.

 

The company announced at a press conference that it had positioned itself for “rapid expansion” into the African financial technology market, following its strides and achievements in Nigeria.

 

Tunde Ogungbade, company’s managing director, said, “In our quest to constantly deliver excellent customer satisfaction, we opened the first Customer Contact Centre in the industry.

 

“The Centre which is open 24/7 enables seamless reception of inbound, outbound calls, and live call monitoring to guarantee quality assurance even on public holidays.”

 

Six regional offices in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Ibadan and Kano between them provide countrywide support, according to a statement.

 

The android PoS device launched last year is thought to perform four times faster than other payment terminal—and stays powered for at least five days on single charge.

 

Apps on the device assist merchants to create sales records and invoices, and manage inventory—automatically monitoring stock, level of orders and replenishing stock.

 

In its quest to dominate the African market, Global Accelerex will undergo rebranding to take on a “new look that reflects its status as a world-class fintech player on the African continent,” said Ogungbade.

 

“The culture at Global Accelerex,” he added, “is to adapt global best practices to the peculiar African market. Our solutions are tailored to meet the needs of small businesses, large corporations and government agencies, helping them in their payment and business processes to propel growth.

 

“We not only provide and operate customised platforms that meet clients’ specific payment needs, we also provide value-added services that help businesses to effectively manage their business processes.

 

“We have set new standards in cashless payment systems with exceptional service delivery, superior applications and ground-breaking initiatives which has placed us far ahead of our competitors,” he concluded.

 

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E-Financial

Ecobank Transnational Debut $450M Eurobond Oversubscribed

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Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, ETI , the parent company of the Ecobank Group, is pleased to announce that it has successfully raised $450 million in its debut Eurobond which was oversubscribed.

The Global Offering is a 5-year unsecured note (144A/RegS) listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange. The bond matures in April 2024 and was issued with a coupon pricing of 9.5% with interest payable semi-annually in arrears.

The proceeds will be used for ETI’s general corporate purposes and to refinance existing Holdco obligations.

Investor interest was global, including United Kingdom, United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

On this debut Eurobond issuance, Mr. Ade Ayeyemi, Group Chief Executive Officer of ETI, stated: “This is another first for Ecobank and I’m very excited at the prospects for the Group as we continue the second phase of our 5-year ‘Roadmap to leadership’ strategy. Our efforts toward greater operational and capital efficiency are paying off, and this offer is another example of the measures we are taking to strengthen our institution and deliver value for all of our stakeholders”.

The Group Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Greg Davis, also commenting on this Eurobond said: “The success of this Eurobond reflects appetite from high quality and real money institutional investors globally and the trust that continues to be conferred on our institution and the markets we have chosen to participate in.”

 

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UAE to Kill 8 Nigerians for ATM Robberies

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Eight Nigerians, all men, have been sentenced to death in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a string of robberies at money exchanges and cash machines (ATMs) across the emirate in December 2016.

 

The ninth Nigerian, found guilty for possession of stolen money was sentenced to six months imprisonment.

 

He will be deported after serving his prison term.

 

The Gulf News reported that the Nigerian denied the charge against him and said that one of the accused’s brothers asked him to transfer Dh60,000 to an account in Nigeria.

 

All the convicted Nigerians were not identified by both the Gulf News and Khaleej Times, all local newspapers, which reported the trial.

 

A total of 20 suspects were initially held for attacking security guards in four violent attacks at ATMs and money exchanges across Sharjah in late 2016. Out of 20 suspects, nine were convicted.

 

Some of the accused confessed to their crimes while others denied the charges levelled against them.

 

The verdict was handed down by Judge Majid Al Muhairi of Sharjah Criminal Court on Wednesday.

 

The eight-member gang attacked security trucks and entered establishments by force and threatened and assaulted staff and members of the public with bladed weapons in a spate of robberies, three of which were carried out on the same day on December 18, 2016.

 

The gang — who were all in the UAE on visit visas — were said to be highly organised and plotted a string of orchestrated attacks to ambush security trucks that were transporting money boxes to and from ATMs, and at least one money exchange in Sharjah.

 

The first robbery took place at a Dubai Commercial Bank ATM on King Abdul Aziz Street where Dh340,000 was stolen. Then two days later they attacked an ATM in Al Safeer Mall in Al Nahda fleeing with Dh700,000, and an ATM in Muweilah where they stole Dh710,000. A fourth attack at a money exchange office near National Paints was foiled by police.

 

The gang of 20 were arrested in record time but police confirmed that only a portion of the stolen money — almost Dh1.8 million — had been recovered, as the gang members had divided the money among themselves and transferred it to their home country.

 

Suspects were taken into custody in cooperation with police in Dubai, Ajman and Fujairah.

 

The gang committed the heists at the busiest times of day when streets were crowded, which added to the confusion and enabled them to escape, said police.

 

In each robbery the assailants struck quickly before police could arrive, the attackers however could not evade security cameras and police were able to recognise the suspects through surveillance footage captured at the exchange house in the mall.

 

Video footage showed the suspects attacking security guards, making off with cash, and in one of the robberies slashing the hands of a security guard with a knife before running away with money boxes.

 

Police believe the suspects had monitored and tracked the security trucks used to transport money for a period of time before launching the attacks.

 

A prosecutor told Gulf News on Thursday that as per the law, a group of people who threaten the life of others while committing robbery are subject to the death sentence, however an appeal is expected to be launched and the sentences could get downgraded to life imprisonment.

 

The trial appeared unconnected with the arrest of five Nigerians in March this year, who robbed a Bureau de Change operator of Dh2.3 million (N225.4 million) in Sharjai, Dubai.

 

The suspects were identified as Chimuanya Emmanuel Ozoh, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Ngoka, Tochukwu Leonard Alisi and Chile Micah Ndunagu.

 

The five Nigerians reportedly barged into the BDC on March 20 and smashed the glass barrier between the customers and the staff, stole the money in multiple currencies and fled.

 

Two employees at the exchange were injured as they resisted the robbers. One of them managed to notify the police. The Sharjah Police coordinated with forces from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman to nab the suspects from four emirates within 48 hours after the robbery was committed.

 

A top police official said the suspects came to the UAE on visit visas on March 18.

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