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Across the counter: Banks’ digital innovations empty banking halls of crowds

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Across the counter: Banks’ digital innovations empty banking halls of crowds

As technology keeps evolving, Nigerian banks keep upscaling their digital banking platforms to ensure a swift and convenient mode of banking for their customers, as opposed to the manual banking system that consumes more time and money.

Despite its downsides, there is no doubt that digital banking is cost-effective and time-saving. This is because customers perform most financial transactions on their mobile phones without having to visit the bank unless it is extremely necessary.

In the past few weeks, a visit to different branches of commercial banks at Ogudu, Magodo, and Ketu proved that the shift to digital banking has significantly reduced the crowd in the banking halls, as most banking halls were virtually empty.

Based on our correspondent’s observation, about 70 percent of the customers in the banking hall were in the Customer service unit, while less than 30 percent were performing transactions across the counter. Each customer at the counter spent an average of five minutes in the banking hall, while customers, who came to lodge complaints spent at least 15 minutes, depending on the gravity of the issue.

An employee of a top bank, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the shift towards digital banking has shortened queues in banks as most customers perform financial transactions on their mobile phones, which is cost-effective and saves time.

“We are in the era of digital banking and this is why the number of people, who come into the banking hall has reduced significantly. Banking is now easy and convenient due to the various digital channels. These days, no one goes to the bank unless it is extremely important. Most people do transactions on their phones either through the mobile app or USSD. If you have complaints, you can reach out to us via email, phone calls, WhatsApp, and other social media platforms. So people only come to the bank when it is absolutely necessary which is cost effective and also saves time,” he stated.

At the Access Bank – Ogudu branch, a few customers were seen over the counter, and most of them were in the bank for withdrawals. About 14 customers were waiting at the customer care unit, which had three employees (a male and two females) who were resolving customers’ transaction issues. The employees were swift in attending to customers and this reduced the waiting time of customers. Likewise, there were about 17 customers at the bank’s branch at Magodo, six of them were at the customer service unit to resolve account-related issues while others were transacting across the counter. All transactions in the Magodo branch were processed on the second floor as the bank was under renovation.

At the branches of First Bank at Ogudu and Magodo, it was observed that only a few customers were in the branches. Customers spent 10 to 15 minutes in the banking halls.

At Union Bank, about six people were waiting at the customer service department, while two female employees attended to them in turn. Each customer spent at least 10 minutes in the banking hall.

At the FCMB Ogudu branch, a few customers were seen at the counter, likewise at the customer service unit. Less than 15 customers were in the banking hall, while two employees were attending to customers at the customer service unit.

Our correspondent proceeded to Eco Bank, Ogudu branch but noticed that there was no long queue in the banking hall. Four customers were at the customer service unit, while two people attended to them. However, the service was quite slow, customers at the customer service unit spent about 20 minutes in the bank. The situation at Eco Bank, Ketu branch was similar as less than 10 customers were in the banking hall.

Even though there was no crowd at Zenith Bank, Ogudu branch, customers spent over 20 minutes in the banking hall. As at the time our correspondent, who spent more than 20 minutes was leaving the bank, some of the customers were still in the banking hall.

The situation at UBA, Ogudu branch was quite different as more customers were in the banking hall, but enough staff members were on seats to attend to customers. About six people were attending to customers at the customer service unit and each customer spent less than 15 minutes in the bank. Also, less than 30 customers were in the bank’s branch on Ikosi Road, over 15 people were performing cash transactions across the counter while 13 people were waiting at the customer service department.

Like UBA, there were more customers at Sterling Bank, but the employees were swift in responding to customers. Based on our correspondent’s observation, each customer spent less than 20 minutes in the banking hall

At Polaris Bank, our correspondent observed that there was no crowd in the bank. Only about 10 customers were in the banking hall. Each customer spent about five minutes in the banking hall

Bank customers shared their thoughts concerning the digital innovations in the banking industry, stating that it was a progressive move as they didn’t have to spend hours in the banking hall over a transaction that could be done conveniently on their mobile phones.

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“It would cost about N800 to get to the nearest bank to my house but with digital banking, I do most transactions on my phone and it has helped to save my time and money. As much as I’m impressed with the digital innovations in the banking sector, however, traditional banks need to upgrade their IT facilities to reduce failed transactions. For instance, I hardly experience failed transactions, delayed transactions, or network glitches with FinTech apps,” one of the respondents said.

“I was in the bank on Monday for a transaction and I spent less than 15 minutes in the bank. There were less than 20 people in the bank. I was surprised because I planned to spend at least 30 minutes at the bank as usual. Nigerian banks have improved in terms of digital banking and it is a good one. We can do anything we want to do in the comfort of our homes without having to spend hours in the banking hall,” a customer said.

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