Wema Bank: Why we’re making e-banking accessible to all

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Wema Bank

Wema Bank Plc is prioritising electronic banking with its commitment to ensuring that individuals and corporate organisations get the best. The bank, which has received Global Credit Rating’s (GCR’s) National Long-term rating at (BBB), continues to record increasing market penetration and brand acceptance. Its Head, eBusiness, Damola Bolodeoku, speaks to COLLINS NWEZE about the bank’s products, services and drive to deepen e-banking.

Wema Bank Plc, which has a national banking licence, remains a major player in the electronic banking segment of the market. New products, excellent service delivery and advanced banking technology are some of the key tools helping the lender to exceed customers’ electronic banking expectations.

Wema Bank’s Head, eBusiness, Damola Bolodeoku, confirmed that the lender remains a key player in the electronic banking space.

”We are doing very well. I can boldly say that Wema Bank has one of the best electronic banking offering in the banking industry. We have something for everyone, from individuals to corporate organisations. Apart from the services we offer, one other good thing about Wema Bank is our commitment to security. Our dual-level authentication in online banking as well as our card Control feature help us to guard against fraud,” he said.

Explaining the card control services, he said the product remains a feature contained in the bank’s electronic banking platform. “The card control features on our electronic banking platforms, such as WemaMobile,WemaOnline, SMSBanking and USSDBanking *945#, makes it possible for a card holder to determine what kind of transactions/payments the card works for. For example, a card holder can set his/her card to work on PoS (Point of Sale) and not work on AutomatedTeller Machines. You can also set the card not to work on all platforms. This puts the card holder in control, reducing incidence of fraud,” he said.

On the bank’s *945# banking plan, he said: “The *945# is easy and convenient banking in customers’ hands. Customers can carry out banking transactions by simply dialing the USSD short code *945# to experience an array of functions, which include checking account balances on the Go, Quick funds transfer, Instant self and third party airtime recharge, bills payment and many more via their mobile phones.”

He said the service works via USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), a technology that allows users to access various services by dialing short codes. “USSD is preferred over the SMS communication channel. In USSD, there is faster data transmission. USSD communication is session-oriented and user-friendly. Transactions are transmitted on a secure network and authenticated with self-generated four-digit PIN. That is not known to the bank.This product is designed to enable banked, unbanked and under-banked individuals that cannot fulfill standard Know Your Customer requirements to achieve their financial goals through their mobile phones while operating a regular bank account,” he said.

According to Bolodeoku, the945 has been successful and is one of the bank’s top businesses, beating revenue targets and has also helped in on boarding new customers due to the ease of opening new accounts and operating them. Thousands of new accounts are opened every month using *945#.

On the uniqueness of the product, he said: “There is something we call Cash on the Go; it enables card-less ATM transactions. If you dial *945*8*AMOUNT#, it tells you to input a cash out PIN. Once you input the PIN, it asks for your 945 PIN to authenticate that transaction. You will be given a reference number with which you can withdraw money from any ATM without your card.

‘’Another thing is mCash. *945# allows you to pay a merchant after you have finished shopping for your groceries. Instead of you paying via PoS, *945# allows you, regardless of your bank, to pay the merchant without using your card.”

According to him, the lender 32 menus on *945# and for each of those 32 menus, there is a short code. This means that for the 32 things you can do on *945#, there is a short code you can use for each. This, he said, allows you to access the platform directly without going through the main menu, and standing the risk of transactions timing out.

On how the bank has benefited from the USSD banking plans, he said: “As I said earlier, *945# is contributing a lot to the bank’s increasing revenue. This is very significant, especially during these tough economic times and stiff competition in the banking industry. The ease of use has encouraged more transactions. For example, you have zero balance on your mobile phone and you are stuck in a place where you cannot buy airtime, all you need to do is dial *945*amount you want to recharge your phone with#”.

He said the bank’s retail group goes to campuses across the country and they open new accounts on the spot using *945#: we are onboarding more customers due to the availability of *945#.

“Few months ago, we commenced a partnership with Etisalat we called the account WemaEasySavers. It is for Etisalat subscribers, who just need to dial *945*10# to open an account. Such partnership with a major telco that is well-placed in the youth market segment, where we are also targeting, would not have been possible without *945#. Wema Bank is a very innovative bank and we have proven that in many ways. Be sure that we will continue coming up with more ways for our customers, and of course, the bank to continue to benefit from the amazing *945#,” he said.

Bolodeoku said the bank has been nominated for some awards in the past and is very hopeful its good works will be recognised this year.

On competition in the industry, he said: “Competition in the e-payment space is stiff. Bank to bank competition is not even as deadly as FinTech startups-bank competition. Any bank that is not innovative in the times we live in will die a natural death. Competition in the e-payment space may be stiff, but we have, so far, held our own by  innovating”.

He explained that Wema Bank understands the youth and has been giving them what they want, including what they need for several decades.

“When physical branches were the norm, we built branches in several higher institutions in the country. Now that the digital age is upon us, we have provided youths access to the best e-banking services on WemaMobile, WemasOnline and *945#. We know how much premium youths place on ease of doing things; all these platforms guarantee this,” he said.

On the future of e-banking, he said: “With what has been achieved so far, the future can only be better. While we have seen sophistication of ideas in payments, we will also continue to see simplification of some ideas to ensure no one is excluded. If there is one major achievement of *945#, it is opening access to erstwhile financially excluded people in the country. Such ideas working through basic devices will along with other high-tech innovations will make payments easier and more secure in the country.’

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Financial Watch. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

About Cynthia Charles 1207 Articles
She is a prolific writer and has special interest on writing about business and opportunities. She can be contacted via [email protected]

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