Access Holdings targets 100 million customers in five years
Herbert Wigwe, Access Bank CEO

BY EMEKA EJERE

Increased investment in technology and the introduction of new online payment channels by Access Bank Plc are beginning to pay off as the lender recorded 105 per cent increase in electronic business income in the nine-month periods ended September 30, 2020.

According to its unaudited financial reports, the tier 1 lender recorded an e-payment gain of N38.80bn up from the N18.96bn reported in the corresponding period in 2019.

Over the past decade, Nigeria’s banking landscape has transformed from one that relies heavily on cash transactions to one driven by mobile payments and artificial intelligence (AI). In March 2019, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), revealed its plans to accelerate the digitalisation of the financial system by reintroducing a nationwide cashless policy scheme.

The scheme, which has been tried at a local level since 2012, aims to reduce the amount of physical cash circulating the market by encouraging citizens to engage in digital transactions. It was the apex bank’s hope that this policy would drive the modernisation of Nigeria’s payments systems, reduce the cost of banking services and boost financial inclusion.

For financial institutions operating across Africa, such developments have placed a greater emphasis on the digitalisation of products and services. With consumers increasingly on the lookout for easier and faster ways to send money and make payments, alternative banking channels are emerging in a bid to cash in on the implementation of digital policies.

It is even more so in the face of the COVID-10 pandemic with many bank customers striving to maintain social distancing by avoiding the banking hall and leveraging the more convenient digital platforms for various financial transactions. This has seen earnings of financial institutions that strategically positioned themselves expanding in recent times.

In the heat of the global pandemic and resultant restriction of movement, Access Bank introduced a Dual Transaction Service (DTS) to better serve its customers during this period.

DTS is an enhanced naira debit card service that provides access to credit at the same time. It is designed to allow pre-approved customers access a credit line through their existing debit card. It provides a seamless and exciting experience for on-boarding customers on all Access Bank credit card products.

Access Bank customers earning above N20,000 have full access to explore this service. Customers could also access 3 times the value of their salary during the period of restricted movement.

“The dual card service from Access Bank Plc is the first-of-its-kind on the continent. The features of the dual transaction service represent another milestone in our mission to transform banking and demonstrates how far we have come in such a short time,” said Victor Etuokwu, executive director of Retail Banking at Access Bank, at the time.

Etuokwu assured that Access Bank will continue to promote digital transactions and discourage branch banking until the world is completely out of the pandemic times.

Also in the spirit of making life easier for its customers during the period of lockdown, the bank launched AccessMore app, a revolutionary mobile banking application. AccessMore facilitated customers’ easy access to their funds while helping them carry out seamless transactions as restriction of movement continued.

According to the bank, AccessMore app is an innovative mobile application that offers a ’more than banking’ experience; built on cutting-edge technology, offering tailored and personalized services, ease of use and excellent customer experience.

“In a period like this, when we need to be more present and relevant in the lives of our customers than ever, we have risen to the challenge to ensure our customers have access to their funds to carry out transactions while keeping safe at home by providing not just uninterrupted service but superior service”, chief executive officer of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe had explained.

This and more contributed to the spike in the lender’s electronic transaction services that have translated to a boost in earnings.

More recently, Access Bank went a step further in its commitment to advancing the frontiers of industry technological innovation across Africa, with the sponsorship of the Nigerian Fintech week 2020.

According to a statement from the bank, the week-long event sought to highlight fintech as a solution to problems across different industries including health, agriculture and logistics.

Speaking at the Fintech Week, the executive director for Information Technology and Operations at Access Bank Plc, Ade Bajomo said: “Access Bank is committed to positively impacting lives and building the economy through technology.

For years, the bank has invested in several initiatives geared towards improving access to technological innovations while providing platforms for tech enthusiasts to innovate and make a massive impact on society.

“One of such innovation is Facepay, which is a pioneer solution in Africa that captures the face of an individual and leverages same to grant access to financial services for the unbanked, make in-store payments seamlessly at merchant locations and subsequently build queue-less branches.”

A recent study by Agusto & Co found that mobile banking applications remained the most popular digital banking platform, backed by the rising number of mobile phone users.

The research, which examined customers’ preferences towards digital banking platforms hosted by 10 selected banks in Nigeria, revealed that Internet banking and USSD banking ranked second and third among the most preferred digital banking platforms among Nigerians.

This was as WhatsApp, chatbots, and telephone banking ranked low among banking platforms used by Nigerians, the Consumer Digital Banking Satisfaction Index report stated.

Agusto & Co Consumer report stated, “Mobile banking applications remain the most popular digital banking platform.

“The increasing use of mobile banking has also been backed by the growing base of mobile phone users, which has grown by a five-year compound annual growth rate of six per cent to 184.4 million as the end of 2019.”

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