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“EcobankPay and Ecobank Xpresspoint Agents are Leveraging technology to expand financial inclusion in Nigeria” – MD

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The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has disclosed that the Bank is leveraging technology to push the frontiers of financial inclusion of the unbanked and under-banked in the country. The Managing Director said this in his keynote presentation at the Vanguard Economic Forum series on mobile money market and Fintech, with the theme, ‘Leveraging Fintech Innovation for Unlocking Growth and Competitiveness in Nigeria’s Mobile & Payment Ecosystem’ held in Lagos. He pointed out that Nigeria which has improved financial inclusion from 47% to 63% in the last decade, remains a dynamic market with a lot of opportunities for digital financial expansion.  He stated that Ecobank has built an ecosystem that leverages digital technology to bring affordable, easy and convenient financial services to the people and businesses. According to him, Ecobank is currently pushing EcobankPay, Xpress Agency Points and other digital platforms as key solutions to address the rapid shift to mobile payment and the adoption of digital channels across the country. He described EcobankPay as a “a lifestyle scan and pay digital payment and collection service which accepts payments from other platforms – mVisa, Masterpass and mCash. Payment can be made with any phone by scanning the QR code or using USSD at merchant locations. It’s unique offering, is its interoperability, that is, all bank customers in Nigeria can pay through their accounts in other banks.  It is free to set up, as the shop owner only needs his/her QR code and phone for notifications to start receiving quick and easy payments. Merchant QR can also be set up via Facebook Messenger as well as USSD payment for low-income phone users” He noted  that EcobankPay “is currently available at over 90,000 merchant  locations across the country. This is in addition to over 6,000 Xpress point agent  locations in the country. Also, we have over 8 million mobile banking subscribers across the Ecobank Group. Our Ecobank Mobile App is unique, as it is one universal app available in 33 countries where we operate in Africa. Furthermore, Ecobank has so far set up EcobankPay Zones in over 50 locations in different parts of the country. These are digital hubs enabling businesses within a location adopt Ecobank’s wide range of digital products for ease of payments for goods and services. The payment options at the zones include EcobankPay, Xpress points, Automated Teller Machines (ATMS) and Point of Sale (PoS)”.Mr. Akinwuntan said also that the banks’ strategy includes collaboration with Fintechs to surmount the financial inclusion and adoption of financial services challenge.Quoting the Efinafintech 2018 report, he noted that “ there is an increased partnership with Fintechs as Nigeria is currently home to over 250 Fintechs and approximately 60% of them supporting payments and lending capabilities. The cumulative Fintech funding by banks in Nigeria has surpassed $250m in the past five years, he pointed out. “Ecobank hosts an annual Africa Fintech challenge and we are providing support infrastructure for Fintechs that excel at the challenge. “At Ecobank our vision and mission focuses on providing Africans affordable and easy to access financial products and services. We believe innovation and technology could help remove barriers to 24/7 access to financial services through the use of self-service applications.“ He also noted that increasing mobile phone penetration has been a key enabler whilst the positive regulatory regime of the Central Bank is driving financial inclusion and seamless payment services initiatives in the country. While commending Vanguard newspaper for organizing the event and choice of the theme and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s various initiatives targeted at promoting and creating enabling environment for mobile banking to thrive in the country, he made case for collaboration of all stakeholders to achieve  the desired result. Deputy Director, Payment System Department, CBN, Musa Jimoh, in his goodwill message at the forum said: “Cost of service is one of the reasons why people refuse to use some banking services including mobile money. “So we came out with a guidelines to bank charges to make sure that we regulate the charges and we have also come out with some other initiatives under the cashless scheme to see how we can bring people to the digital channel and reduce the high cost of operations in the bank. “There are several initiatives that CBN is pushing to ensure the mobile money operators grow and help us deepen financial inclusion.” Earlier in her presentation, Professor Olayinka David-West, Academic Director, Lagos Business School, LBS, explained that financial inclusion is the access to unleash affordable financial services to the huge population of the unbanked and the under-banked in the society. She stated: “Affordable financial service is important because not everybody can afford to pay for account maintenance of N500 a month. “To address financial inclusion, innovation is important because it will help us address the easy access to financial services. It has nothing to do with literacy; it is about how do we design it knowing the capabilities of the people we are trying to serve.”
Ecobank is a leading pan-African bank with an unrivalled platform in Africa. Its vision is to build a world class Pan African bank contributing to the socioeconomic development of Africa, while also providing customers convenient accessible and reliable financial products and services.

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Jumia Offers Exciting Deals to Customers With Naija Shopping Festival Campaign

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jumia

Nigeria’s leading e-tailer Jumia, is offering a thrilling shopping experience to Nigerian customers with the Naija Shopping Festival campaign, running from the 12th of July to 29th of August.

The festival offers customers a unique opportunity of a good bargain on every product of their choice at the best market prices.

 

The campaign period (12th of July to 29th of August) is a window of opportunity for parents to leverage price discounts for holiday play items and back to school materials for their kids. It is also an ample opportunity for those working on their beach body for the holiday to get sports gear at the best prices. Customers are expected to download the Jumia App to fully exploit the benefits of the shopping festival. 

 

 

Head of Brands at Jumia Nigeria, Moyosore Oduwobi while commenting on offers available during the festival period said, Jumia marketplace offers simplicity and affordability to the Nigerian customers, and is offering them more on a wider range of products during the festival. 

 

Naija Shopping Festival is every shopper’s dream. Every product you can think of that you’ll need this season, it’s available on Jumia. It’s a good opportunity for customers to delve into the simplicity of the experience and the affordability we offer. It’s our identity to give customers unbeatable prices from the comfort of their homes, and this and more is what they will be getting during this festival,” Oduwobi said. 

 

 

Some of the partners for the Festival include Pernod Ricard, Edifier, Adidas, Nivea, Xiaomi and Fanswedy.

 

The campaign offers customers amazing shopping experiences and benefits such as Daily Flash sales, free shipping on selected brands, N100 clearance sales, live giveaways and surprises packages for shoppers on the weekends.

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Customer Appreciates Service Delivery Of Nigeria’s Ecommerce Market Leader

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Customer

E-commerce is still in its infancy in Nigeria and Africa in general. Despite this, many would agree that a lot of progress has been made in the industry.

What we have today is a big leap to what obtained twelve years ago. More consumers are onboarding the e-commerce train. The hardest skeptics are beginning to have a taste of what online shopping entails.

Urban centers are gradually becoming a beehive of e-commerce activities, as the majority of small businesses now showcase their wares online. Several logistics brands are springing up to meet the delivery demands of sellers and customers.

Hardly would you ply major roads in states like Lagos, Rivers and Abuja, without coming across a delivery van or motorcycle. Their presence is an indication of e-commerce momentum in the country.

More important is the improvement on service delivery by the industry players. The early days of online shopping was fraught with complaints. Late delivery of orders, wrong items and payment itches were prevalent at the time. Though these issues are still being experienced at intervals, it is fair to say that online platforms have put in effort to reduce such occurrences.

And in cases where this happens, measures are in place for a speedy refund process. These efforts are also being appreciated by customers. “I have been using Jumia for like six years now and my experience with Jumia has been nice.

Even when I returned my order, I got my refund back less than the time they gave me. Even on their JumiaPay wallet, which you have to pay online before you get your order, I have had a very good experience with them,” said Ogechi Celestine, a Civil Servant resident in Rivers State.

Another interesting way e-commerce brands are improving service delivery and customer experience is pick up stations. With a station close by, a customer can walk in and pick his item. It takes e-commerce closer to rural residents and further eases the deal for urban dwellers.

“Today is my first time coming to their pickup station to pick my order. I give kudos to Jumia and the team. They should keep it up,” Celestine added. The initiative is not only taking the service closer to customers, but also having ripple impact on small businesses.

Though the e-commerce industry still has a lot to improve on, the work being put in by the major industry players gives hope of a good future for e-commerce services in Nigeria.

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HOW CUSTOMERS’ INCREASED TRUST IN FIRSTBANK’S *894# USSD BANKING CAN BOOST THE FINANCIAL INCLUSION DRIVE

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FirstBank

The path to financial inclusion holds different marketplace barriers and opportunities in different countries, but the push continues because of proof that an increase in economic activities among the financially vulnerable can reawaken a comatose economy.

 

 

For Nigeria, the last three years have seen significant growth of the financial inclusion rate from 56.8% in 2016 to 63.2% in 2018. FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking service is playing a key role in it.

 

FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking initiative is already averaging about 99 million transactions monthly, with a naira worth of (N’m) 370,543 on these transactions. This figure includes the undergraduate doing a mobile airtime recharge; the trader receiving a mobile payment from a customer; the IT person hurriedly buying a data bundle to keep business afloat; the anxious father paying his daughter’s hospital bills for treatment to commence, and the busy worker in Lagos transferring money to his parents in the village since he cannot get to a banking hall.

 

This is just a rough sampling of the financial transactions that amounted to over N3.6 trillion in transaction value on the *894# USSD banking service in 2020. There is practically no financial emergency that the USSD service does not come in.

 

The problems that the *894# USSD service from First Bank of Nigeria Limited is solving is the only justification for the rapid traction it has gained since it was introduced in 2015. It is easy to see Nigerians trust and confidence in the USSD system, with the Bank rapidly growing from 9.5 million customers on the USSD feature to 12.26 million customers within the last year. Over 1.02 million of the figure, are customers who registered in the first 6 months of 2021.

 

The first and perhaps the most attractive feature of USSD banking has got to be that it can be done from any kind of phone and without any form of internet connectivity. Although smartphones are getting more common, there is still a high poverty rate and many financially vulnerable people who cannot access internet banking. The internet penetration in Nigeria is still below the ideal, so users have to deal with poor internet connections in some areas.

 

That is why this kind of banking service that can be accessed without internet connectivity is ideal for the financial inclusion drive. The *894# USSD feature can be used across the four major GSM network operators in the country, meaning there is no added demand on the users.

 

Getting started on the service is as easy as dialling *894*0#, and creating a pin. With that done, you can do airtime and data purchase for yourself and other parties, transfer funds to other accounts, make a BVN enquiry, check your account balance and get a mini statement.

 

For non-customers, this feature allows you to open a bank account in a couple of minutes without having to visit the banking hall. You can open a bank account, receive your account number immediately and start transactions on it right away. The claims of “instant banking, anytime, anywhere” can’t get more real than this.

 

There is even an added security step, requesting a second-factor authentication (2FA) for transfers above N20,000 as a way to secure customers from being ripped off their funds. There is a cumulative maximum daily transfer limit of N100,000 to both FirstBank and other banks accounts.

 

How does FirstBank USSD improve the lives of Nigerians?

For one, the data being generated through this service is sufficient to help the bank understand its current and prospective customers and develop products that suit them.

 

Traders and small businesses can also get a Merchant ID which customers can use to make payments for products and services. This of course is better than having to send one’s account details to countless customers, even without knowing whether or not they are ready to make their purchase.

 

To ensure customers can meet emergency needs before month-end, the Bank’s FirstAdvance service is at their fingertips. FirstAdvance is a digital lending solution designed to offer convenient and easy access to cash for payroll customers awaiting payment of their salaries.

 

Offered through the Bank’s USSD Banking service and leading banking app product, FirstMobile, customers are exposed to a range of loan offerings which put them at an edge in meeting immediate financial needs. To initiate the service through the USSD banking service, the customer is to dial – USSD CODE-*894*11# or *894#. The service is open to customers with a salary account domiciled with the Bank and have received salaries for the last 6 months at the least.

 

There are much more about FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking that puts customers at a distinct advantage in carrying out their daily personal, financial and business activities; meeting unforeseen emergencies, and carrying out a wide range of transactions – with so much fun and convenience – irrespective of where they are in the country.

 

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