Pan African bank, Ecobank Nigeria has reiterated readiness for the next generation of digital banking; the bank has in recent times rolled out cutting edge technology in digital banking such as the Xpress Cash service which allows customers to withdraw cash from any Ecobank ATM using e-Tokens generated from the Ecobank Mobile app.
In a recent interview, Charles Kie the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, which has over 400 branches nationwide told a select group of journalists that the pan-Africa bank was focused on being a market leader, especially as the banking industry transits to the digital space, described as the future. He also spoke on other industry-related issues.
Reacting to the bank’s FinTech innovations, Charles Kie said; “Let me be very clear on this, the app is just one channel out of many that we are using to support the financial institution. When we are talking about enhancing the digitisation of our platforms, what exactly do we have in mind? What do typically customers go to branches to do? They either go to deposit money or they either go to withdraw money. Today, frankly, why would someone go into a branch – to withdraw money or to transfer money This is why ATMs were put together in most places to allow customers to just withdraw without having to go into the branches, this is one step and this is common in the whole of the industry…”
“Not when your ATMs can only dispense just N10,000 per transaction. If you want to withdraw N100,000, you will have to do that 10 times”.
“There was probably a time when this was done but I’m telling you that today, if you go into any of our branches, you will be able to withdraw up to N20,000. Why am I saying this? You know when you go and withdraw cash on any ATM where ever it is, and that doesn’t have to be an Ecobank ATM by the way because this is not a specific conversation about Ecobank, it’s an industry thing. I can tell you that some banks in this market have limited their access to other customers to be doing N5,000 and N10,000, and it’s a fact that has nothing to do with Ecobank and you know that. Lower amount of withdrawal from our ATMs was because we were doing some maintenance on the system. Just last week, we were probably if not the only bank that was allowing customers to withdraw N20,000. This is why the volume of withdrawals on our ATMs by non-Ecobank customers is by far the highest, and the numbers are there to support it and that is one”.
“The second thing is digitisation is not just about the app that I spoke about; today, you don’t need to have access to the Internet to transact on your mobile, this is why you have USSD technology that is available and you don’t need to download it, you can use that to have access to all the features. We are going even the extra mile because at the moment, we are working to make sure that our customers experience the same level of excitement that they have on the app when they use the normal phones, and that is something that is coming. It’s a key innovation and its coming. I think it’s important that in this journey while we sometimes only look at what doesn’t work that we also look at the real innovations and the real improvements that are being brought into the industry. How many banks can claim that with your phone today that you can go to a merchant and pay with just taking a picture of a QR Code? Until recently, I think we were about the only one. Is that innovation? Yes. Does that make the lives of our customers easy? Yes, it does”.
“So, these are part of the things that we want but obviously, like in any innovation, there is a learning gap, and there is an adjustment, and we want to make sure that while that adjustment takes place, the customers continue to enjoy the platforms that we have. We will see in next two weeks because we are working so hard on that, that the branches that we have kept obviously customers will see something completely different when they go into those branches. We have also decided that we are going to significantly improve the kind of fulfilment that they have when they go into our branches, so that even if the digital channel is not available they can also have ease of transacting with us through the branches”.
“But you should know that for sure branches are not the future of banking, because today you will also notice that the banks that were seen to be among the most profitable in the country do not even have 300 branches, but today we have 404 branches after we have closed 75. We still have a network, which is one of the most important in the country, and it’s important to state that, as we create value for our customers, we also make sure for our shareholders get some value. We also make sure that our customers enjoy the platforms that are made available to them both the physical ones and the digital ones”.
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