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COVID-19: FIRSTBANK’S FIRSTMONIE LEADS THE PACE IN AGENT BANKING

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By Bolatito Adebola

In this COVID-19 era where movement is restricted in some major parts of the world – including Nigeria – with many Banks and business reengineering efforts to improve the adaptability of their customers to electronic ways of carrying out business, Firstmonie Agents, an agent banking initiative from First Bank of Nigeria Limited is bridging the gaps and helping people to meet their needs of accessing the funds to buy food items and groceries as well as to send money to their loved ones.

This is one of the many measures by the premier financial institution in Nigeria to support the need to promote social distancing and the reduction of physical interactions of people in large numbers, thereby guarding against the spread of the coronavirus.

FirstBank introduced this innovative channel three years ago, with the aim of bringing banking to close those who live

in the rural areas and to every Nigerian -regardless of where they are in the country.

Firstmonie Agents also ensure individuals in the suburbs do not have to travel for long hours to the city for their banking activities. The gap between the tech-savvy and the low literacy clients has been bridged as Firstmonie Agent network represents the convenient and comfortable alternative for customers that are unacquainted with the sophisticated digital channels.

With over 53,000 Firstmonie Agents spread across 99% Local Government Areas in the country, the laudable initiative by FirstBank is another way to bank – without visiting a Bank – which allows you to make cash deposit, transfer money to any bank and enjoy other banking services like bills payment and purchase of recharge card amongst others.

Recently, Halima, a FirstBank customer who is a housewife and petty trader, residing in a remote area in Abuja expressed her delight on the Firstmonie Agent initiative as she was able to easily get cash from an agent nearby to procure groceries for herself and her three children. Her bank being far away in Garki was too far to visit to get money. Thanks to Firstmonie which she discovered through her co-tenant, her joy knew no bounds as Halima was able to access her money at the Firstmonie Agent outlet close to her, as well as send money to her mother in far away, Maiduguri in Borno State.

Another customer in Lagos, Adeoye, a civil servant also lauded this brilliant initiative from FirstBank and narrated his experience when he visited the stand of Firstmonie in Ojota area of Ogudu, Lagos. He explained that he was able to do his transaction with ease.

According to Mrs. Sadia Folorunsho, she said ‘I did not know FirstBank has this wonderful service within my area as it actually saved my family from hunger as I was able to perform banking activities without being in the bank,’ she stated.

These are what the management of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, led by its CEO, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan has been able to make available well ahead of time, since no one knew there might be a pandemic that will warrant a lockdown.

Its Firstmonie Agents at every nook and cranny in Nigeria has been able to remove the burden from the shoulders of Nigerians and allow many to carry out several transactions at Firstmonie Agent locations, within close proximity of their home.

Firstmonie Agent banking is a channel specifically designed by FirstBank to bring financial services closer to the unbanked and underbanked segment of the society whilst promoting existing businesses within the communities to deliver their services and contribute to the growth and development of the economy.

With the spread of its Agent Banking network, FirstBank has been able to indirectly create over 150,000 jobs as the Firstmonie Agents have had to employ the services of other individuals to build their businesses and meet the financial needs of individuals in its community.

So far, the Bank has deepened financial inclusion through Firstmonie Agents with 237.3 million transactions processed through the network at a monetary value of over 4.08 Trillion Naira.

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Banking

Ecobank emerges Agric Lender of the Year 2020 ……..BAFI Awards

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Ecobank Nigeria has emerged the winner of “Agric Lender of the Year” award at the prestigious Business Day’s Bank and other Financial Institutions Awards (BAFI). The bank was winner among other strong contenders to clinch the coveted award over the weekend.  According to Publisher of Business Day Newspapers, organisers of the event, Frank Aigbogun, Ecobank emerged winner from more than six strong nominees that were vetted, from which three were selected for the judges’ final choice. He stated that Business Day analysts spent over four weeks assessing the performance of Ecobank and its peers to arrive at  its decision.  He lauded Ecobank’s support for financing rural farmers for food sufficiency, providing employment, creating awareness to showcase the potentials in the sector and partnering government agencies, local and international development partners to develop the agric sector.

Receiving the award, Segment Head, Public Sector/AgriBusiness, Mojisola Oguntoyinbo said the award was well deserved, stating that Ecobank has been at the forefront of financing the entire value chain of agriculture thereby supporting the emergence of new entrepreneurs in the sector.  According to her, “As a bank, we are glad that our efforts at developing the agriculture sector of our country are being recognised. This is an encouragement that we should step up our support for the national economy.”

According to her, “Earlier in the year, we announced Agriculture Businesses Finance Scheme which will see us commence the disbursement of agriculture loans to practitioners in different value chains in the sector within the next two years. We have Agric Schemes to support over 70,000 farmers with special loans to increase their capacity and yields in support of the CBN 2020 wet season programme with the Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN).  We are also in partnership with the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) and other developmental partners to double the amount of credit provided to the agricultural sector over the next two or three years.”

Ecobank has been actively leveraging entrepreneurship as a strategy to tackle poverty and growing unemployment in Nigeria through the creation of relevant platforms. One of such platforms is the Ecobank Xpress Point, the bank’s Agency Banking proposition which enables Agents carry out financial transactions on behalf of Ecobank and earn commission on transactions processed. Ecobank popularly referred to as the digital bank is also using its various  platforms including PoS, Omnilite, Omni, ATM, Mobile banking, Ecobank Mobile app, EcobankPay and Ecobank Online, among others to facilitate ease of transactions for customers.

The BAFI Awards is adjudged the most rigorous, prestigious and transparent awards programme in the Nigerian financial industry. Since its inception, Business Day has implemented an audit based approach in the evaluation process, meticulously reviewing shortlisted company’s financial reports, commissioned customer perception surveys, and analysts’ opinions to determine winners in the different award categories.

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BUSINESS

Kia Launches First of its Kind Live Stream Showroom in Nigeria to Offer Customers an Innovative Digital Experience

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Kia Motors Nigeria has announced the launch of a highly innovative and first of its kind, ‘Live Stream Showroom,’ a new online platform in Nigeria, that offers customers access to personalized virtual viewings of their best-in-class cars from the showrooms.

The Live Stream Showroom offers a completely digital, online platform that allows anyone or customers using a smartphone to have a live video session with Kia showroom for a digital experience tailored to meet their individual needs. Customers will receive a one-on-one consultation with live responses to questions, and explore the design and features of their chosen model, answer to the customer queries and see demonstrations of new technology and functionality on demand.

The pandemic has been turning daily lives upside down these past few months and the disruption is certainly not over yet. Thus, there’s a need to constantly adapt and find new and creative ways of performing everyday tasks, and inspecting a car is no exception to that. The new Live Stream Showroom platform is introduced in Nigeria as part of the boundless initiative of Kia to improve the showroom experience and bring it close to the people at the comfort of their homes.

The new platform prioritizes customer convenience and ensures a seamless digital experience that is the same as a physical showroom visit. This commitment toward customer value-led innovations come as the company establishes its leadership position globally in the future automotive industry under its Plan S strategy.

“Live Stream Showroom demonstrates our continued commitment to tailoring the car-buying journey and ownership experience to the demands of our customers with virtual viewings,” said Olawale Jimoh, Marketing Manager, Kia Motors Nigeria. “By launching this new platform, we aim to stay ahead of the curve in digital sales and marketing in this time of transition.”

Recent consumer demand shows a strong indication that customers are looking to take more of the car-buying journey online. The recent data collected by Kia globally shows that 83 percent of consumers prefer to carry out product research online before making a purchase, while 47 percent of consumers expressed interest in using online platforms for future purchases.

As a customer-centric leading auto company in Nigeria, Kia has been over the years been at the fore of a more modern and digital customer experience. when other automakers were heavily rooted in the traditional brick and mortar showroom-visit. The launch of their omnichannel customer acquisition through different online platforms; live chats, social media, responsive contact center, automated email marketing had formed the fulcrum of the company’s customer engagement over the years.

It’s no surprise that the newly launched Kia Livestream showroom is best suited at this time that there is even more emphasis on alternative sales channels and people are increasingly conducting their research from the comfort of their homes and even turning to online platform car buying for the safest possible experience. The Kia Live Stream Showroom application can be accessed via the company’s website, www.kiamotorsnigeria.com under the ‘Buying Tools’ navigation menu.

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Banking

COVID-19: FIRSTBANK LAUNCHES NEXT-GENERATION ATM, SPEARHEADS INNOVATION IN ELECTRONIC BANKING IN NIGERIA

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In the light of COVID-19, FirstBank has launched the FastTrack ATM, a Next Generation ATM and first of its kind in Africa, designed to promote financial activities on the ATM devoid of any form of physical interaction with the machine. The introduction of the FastTrack ATM which is done in partnership with Inlaks enables customers carry out cash withdrawals without having to touch the interface of the ATM.

With the FastTrack ATM, widely referred to as Touchless Solution, the customer carries out the transaction by using his or her mobile phone to perform the needed steps designed originally for implementation on the ATM. By using one’s phone, the transaction is carried out – in advance – through the Bank’s USSD or mobile banking option. Upon the schedule, the customer visits the FastTrack ATM to complete the transaction by tapping a contactless Near Field Communication (NFC) card on the ATM to withdraw his or her cash.

FirstBank customers can now leverage the real-time mobile banking capabilities of their cellphone to activate cash withdrawals at the FastTrack ATM. The ATM solution is the Bank’s response to control the spread of COVID-19, whilst promoting the safety of customers that carry out transactions at the ATM.

Speaking on the launch of the FastTrack ATM, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said ‘at FirstBank, we are driven to provide seamless financial solutions to ensure our customers are able to timely carry out their transactions in safe, secured and efficient ways, thereby putting them ahead in digital banking, not just in Nigeria but Africa. We are delighted to set the pace regarding the use of the Next Generation ATM in Africa which enables customers to use their mobile phones to remotely initiate ATM-based cash withdrawals via our *894# USSD banking or FirstMobile application. At the core of our strategy lies innovation which is critical to adapting to the new normal’.

According to Olufemi Adeoti, Managing Director, Inlaks, “given that consumers are more adaptable to mobile technology Inlaks – the Africa’s leading Information Technology Solutions provider together with Hyosung ATM OEM are partnering with FirstBank to introduce the first fully compliant COVID-19 FinTech ATM. This is in alignment with the ‘new normal’ desired customer experience which includes digitalization and delivering a secure contactless cash access to the bank’s FirstMobile customers for better user experience, simplicity, speed and convenience’’

In recognition of its giant strides at promoting electronic banking in the country, FirstBank’s mobile banking application – FirstMobile –  was recently awarded the Best Mobile Banking App award 2020 in the Global Finance Best Digital Bank Awards 2020 as well as 2019 Best Mobile Banking App by Global Business Outlook.

FirstBank has been at the forefront of promoting electronic banking solution in Nigeria. In 2017, the Bank was recognized as the first financial institution in Nigeria and the West-Africa sub-region to issue 10 million ATM cards to customers across the country. The bank was the second in Africa to achieve the milestone.

These feats are achieved through the trusts in its industry leading innovative banking solutions by over 10 million customers on its USSD *894# banking platform and over 4.1 million customers on its FirstMobile banking application, endearing the Bank to process about 30% of card transactions in the entire banking industry in the country.

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