Deepening financial inclusion with Fintech partnership

Gone are the days when banking was boring and simple transactions took a day to one week or two to complete. With digital banking, commercial banks are finding new ways of providing efficient services and reaching the unbanked. The FirstBank’s FinTech Summit 4.0 virtual conference in Lagos presented an opportunity for experts, policy influencers and regulatory officials in the financial, banking and technological sectors to discuss the gains of bank-Fintech partnership in promoting financial inclusion, writes COLLINS NWEZE.

BANKS are also deepening their footprints on the sand of digital banking through partnerships and increased investment in technology.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks have also recognised the need to collaborate with fintechs to bring banking closer to the people. There is also the increased need to get more bank customers to embrace digital banking.

The CBN has also, in line with its National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), included the fintechs in its targeted agencies to achieve 80 per cent of its objective by this year, from about 64 per cent.

Hence, the need for banks and Financial Technology (FinTech) firms to deepen the banking sector through better product and service offerings was a major highlight at the FirstBank FinTech Summit 4.0 virtual conference in Lagos.

FirstBank, a leading Tier-1 bank, also provided an opportunity for regulators, banks and fintech firms to discuss the way forward for digital payments and financial inclusion, while looking for areas of collaboration.

The event with the theme: “How blockchain and Artificial Intelligence will disrupt FinTech in Nigeria”, was an opportunity to get knotty issues around digital payment resolved and discuss opportunities digital payment presents to the financial sector and economy. The event was the fourth.

Deputy Managing Director, FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, Gbenga Shobo said: “At FirstBank, we have been at the forefront of employing technology in the delivery of financial services in the country exemplified by our various products and services such as FirstMobile, USSD Banking services, FirstMonie Wallet, FirstMonie Agent Banking, FirstAdvance loans provisions.

“The 2020 edition of our fintech summit was built on the successes achieved in the last three editions. We welcome the panelists as we look forward to the shared knowledge, which will be integral to deepening the continued growth of banking technology, especially its impact on the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria and the continent at large.’’

Shobo said the summit leveraged the successes achieved in the past editions. He said it was opportunity to share knowledge, which would be integral to deepening the growth of banking technology, especially its impact on the nation’s GDP and that of the continent.

“Technology continues to play a fundamental role in driving financial inclusion and strengthening the growth of SMEs that contribute significantly to the development of the country. We encourage members of the public, players in the fintech and financial climate to register, as there is knowledge for everyone,” he added.

CBN Director, Payment System Management, Musa Jimoh said the apex bank was implementing its open banking regime policy that would require banks to open their account base to fintechs to bring more people into the system.

He said such data exchange would also increase access to financial services and provide better services to customers. He said the directive was in line with the apex bank’s five- year vision and open banking regime policy.

Jimoh described fintechs as technology-enabled innovation in financial services that could result in new business models, applications, processes or products with an effect on financial services.

Fintech firms like Quick-teller, MoniDey, Baxi, PocketMoni, Unified Payments, Paga, and Cellulant, are helping consumers in bill payments, retail payments, airtime purchases and use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) transactions. They also collect payments – whether from the banked or not.

Read Also: FirstBank Partners UN1TY Nigeria, Promotes Growth of Nigerian music with Voice Voice Nigeria Season 3

Jimoh said the CBN is also boosting the use of artificial intelligence in banking, and promoting digital payment access. ”We have also released the quick response -QR Code framework, which is expected to help drive the ecosystem, and provide a central database that will promote financial inclusion,” he said.

Also, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, Chuma Ezirim, said: ”We work closely with fintechs, and our relationship with them is mutually beneficial. If you are a fintech and you want to leverage our data to get more people into the financial system, we will oblige you and ensure that whatever agreement we reach with you on your business idea is protected.”

Chinedu Echeruo, founder, HopStop, which was sold to Apple for $1 billion, was the keynote speaker. He alongside other panelists – Musa Itopa Jimoh, Director, Payments System Management Department and Aminu Maida, Executive Director, Technology & Operations, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS).

Other stakeholders also said fintechs would boost credit access and promote growth.

He said the CBN was trying to finalise the incubation of some of these firms and also watch what they were doing. They said there was the need to expand access to finance, find new ways to raise capital, enhance financial inclusion and foster increased participation in the capital market through fintechs.

The CBN recently promoted the use of regulatory sandbox, which is a process for firms to conduct live tests of new, innovative products, services, delivery channels, or business models in a controlled environment, with regulatory oversight, subject to appropriate conditions and safeguards.

This would enable the bank stay abreast of innovations while promoting a safe, reliable and efficient payments system to foster innovation without compromising on the delivery of its mandate.

He said the CBN has released a framework that defines the rules of a Regulatory Sandbox for the Nigerian Payments System to promote competition, embrace new technology, encourage financial inclusion and improve customer experience, to engender public confidence in the financial system.

*894# Unstructured Supplementary Service Data

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced that its *894# Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), Quick Banking service has hit over 9.5 million customers. This is in clear demonstration of its acknowledged leadership in electronic Banking. The Bank’s USSD banking service, launched in January 2015, is an easy to use, convenient, fast, user-friendly mobile banking channel through which various banking activities are carried out on a mobile phone – across the four major GSM network operators in the country – without the use of the internet.

Customers are able to enjoy a wide range of banking services using the Bank’s *894# USSD banking. These services include; Data and Airtime top-up for self and third-party individuals, Quick Balance Enquiry, Fund Transfers, BVN Enquiry, BVN Linkage, Mini-statement, Account Number Enquiry, Account Opening, Merchant Payment and FirstAdvance loan service. The FirstAdvance loan service enables salary earners take a loan up to 50% of their monthly salary.

FirstMobile Banking Application Upgraded

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced that its mobile banking application, FirstMobile has been upgraded with new and improved features to promote safe and convenient Mobile Banking experience for customers.

The Bank’s award-winning and dynamic mobile banking application has been redesigned with improved security and self-service features to ease the navigation capability and proficiency of customers. Its unique cool blue colour background gives it a more appealing interface for customers to enjoy a unified and streamlined banking experience whilst going about their day to day activities.

FirstMobile is now embedded with a card protection service for customers to enable and disable cards on channels, account switch off as well as second-factor authentication and device registration. With the upgraded FirstMobile, customers can remotely initiate the request for a new debit card as well as the replacement of a lost or damaged one, whilst managing activities on their card and account, thus balance enquiry and statement, amongst others.

The biometrics for transactions is another innovative security upgrade on the application to validate transactions. This feature includes fingerprint for transactions, allowing the customer to use his or her fingerprint to consummate all transactions.

Other added features include frequent transaction; dashboard flexibility and personalisation; smoother transaction experience and improved beneficiary management.

With the frequent transaction feature, the user is able to easily access his or her frequently completed transactions – airtime, transfers and bill payments – and reinitiate such with the clicks of a button. This is an additional menu which can easily be accessed from the dashboard. Airtime top-up and data purchase have also been improved, as customers are able to select phone numbers directly from their phone contacts.

The application has been upgraded with a smoother experience on funds transfer, bill payments and airtime transactions as customers can add and delete beneficiary without having to repeatedly enter the recipients’ details over and over again. Users can also take a photo or select from the Avatar (available icons) to personalize their dashboard and beneficiaries for Transfers, Bills Payment & Airtime Transactions by uploading a picture to associate with their beneficiary, especially the more frequent ones.

The dashboard has been designed to reflect the lifestyle and social pattern of the user as it can be customized by adding any profile picture of choice. The dashboard also enables users to monitor their spending patterns over a period. It shows the inflow and outflow of funds on their account.

In need of a loan to meet that pressing need, FirstMobile has you covered and puts you at an advantage with the FirstAdvance and Nano Loan features.

Keen on watching the next blockbuster in your favourite cinema, with FirstMobile, you can book for movie ticket(s) ahead of time, thereby averting the risk of being told the movie is sold-out upon getting to the movie theatre. You can also book for flights at your earliest convenience on FirstMobile.

“The upgraded FirstMobile is built to reflect FirstBank’s resolve at reinforcing the digitisation of our payment systems, whilst putting our customers at an edge to conveniently meet their everyday needs at any time, irrespective of where they are. Indeed, this upgrade makes the application new, as it is designed to suit the social pattern and lifestyle of our customers.” said Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products.

“With over 3.7million active users on FirstMobile across android and ios devices, we remain steadfast at regularly reinventing our services on the App with dynamic and innovative capabilities to resonate our focus to deliver state of the art digital solutions to all our customers at all times, irrespective of where they are” he concluded.

Only recently, FirstMobile was awarded the “Best Mobile Banking App” in the country at the Global Business Outlook Awards.

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced that its mobile banking application, FirstMobile has been upgraded with new and improved features to promote safe and convenient Mobile Banking experience for customers.

The Bank’s award-winning and dynamic mobile banking application has been redesigned with improved security and self-service features to ease the navigation capability and proficiency of customers. Its unique cool blue colour background gives it a more appealing interface for customers to enjoy a unified and streamlined banking experience whilst going about their day to day activities.

FirstMobile is now embedded with a card protection service for customers to enable and disable cards on channels, account switch off as well as second-factor authentication and device registration. With the upgraded FirstMobile, customers can remotely initiate the request for a new debit card as well as the replacement of a lost or damaged one, whilst managing activities on their card and account, thus balance enquiry and statement, amongst others.

The biometrics for transactions is another innovative security upgrade on the application to validate transactions. This feature includes fingerprint for transactions, allowing the customer to use his or her fingerprint to consummate all transactions.

Other added features include frequent transaction; dashboard flexibility and personalisation; smoother transaction experience and improved beneficiary management.

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