By: Segun Lawal
Nala, Virtual Identity and Wallet.ng dazzle judging panel to be the three winners of the competition; All 11 finalists were officially inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship programme to explore commercial partnerships with the pan-African banking giant.
Winners of the 2018 Ecobank Fintech Challenge were announced at a ceremony held at Ecobank’s (Ecobank.com) headquarters in Lome, Togo on 30th August 2018.
Nala, from Tanzania, beat the ten other finalists to emerge as the overall winner of the competition. Virtual Identity from South Africa and Wallet.ng from Nigeria were the first and second runners up. They won cash prizes worth US$10,0000, $7,000 and US$5,000 respectively.
Nala, based in Tanzania, is a mobile money application that works offline, without an internet connection. Nala provides a unified user experience in which multiple financial services can be connected on one application. It can host multiple SIMs, enabing users to manage their spending and take control of their finances.
Second placed Virtual Identity is an innovative platform designed to disrupt traditional customer onboarding for banks. The process is fully digital, creating a virtual video conferencing link between the agent and the customer. Its easy to use web-based solution allows the client to complete tedious KYC processes from anywhere, making it both convenient and time saving.
The third placed prize winner, Wallet.ng, is a start-up providing an alternative bank for a growing generation of digital natives. Its core strength is building a banking platform that is as native to customers’ devices as Facebook and WhatsApp.
Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO praised the finalists for their innovative solutions and welcomed them to the Fellowship: “We are proud of the impressive start-ups that made it to our 2018 final. They are shining examples of the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that will propel our continent’s global competitiveness in the commercial services markets, and I sincerely expect some, if not all, of them to be the business titans of tomorrow. They have my congratulations and we look forward to working closely with all eleven Fellows over the next year to deliver innovative banking services at better price-points that will improve the lives of Africans.”
This year’s Fintech Challenge was keenly contested with applications from over 412 innovative fintech entrepreneurs from across Africa, Europe, North America and Asia.
All eleven (11) finalists were inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship, a one-year business program where they can explore opportunities for commercial partnerships with the Ecobank Group, to launch and scale products across Ecobank’s 33 country markets in the continent.
Launched in 2017, the second year of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge brought together fintech start-ups and innovators, policy makers, investors and development organisations from across the world to network, witness the 2018 finalists’ exhibitions, and celebrate the induction of the finalists into the 2018 Ecobank Fintech Fellowship.
Also present at the finals was the Honourable Alhaji Dr. Ibrahim Awal Mohammed, Minister of Business Development of Ghana, who commended Ecobank for this initiative and urged more support for young African entrepreneurs to improve job creation on the continent.
The Ecobank Fintech Challenge and Fellowship is designed and managed by the advisory firm Konfidants and supported by FMO, Microsoft4Afrika, Accion Venture Labs, Cellulant and FinConecta. More information on the fellows, their innovations and the Innovation Fellowship can be found on the programme website at www.EcobankFinTech.com.
FIRSTBANK UPGRADES ITS MOBILE BANKING APPLICATION, REINFORCES ITS EDGE AT PUTTING CUSTOMERS AHEAD IN ELECTRONIC BANKING
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced that its mobile banking application, FirstMobile has been upgraded with new and improved features to promote safe and convenient Mobile Banking experience for customers.
The Bank’s award-winning and dynamic mobile banking application has been redesigned with improved security and self-service features to ease the navigation capability and proficiency of customers. Its unique cool blue colour background gives it a more appealing interface for customers to enjoy a unified and streamlined banking experience whilst going about their day to day activities.
FirstMobile is now embedded with a card protection service for customers to enable and disable cards on channels, account switch off as well as second-factor authentication and device registration. With the upgraded FirstMobile, customers can remotely initiate the request for a new debit card as well as the replacement of a lost or damaged one, whilst managing activities on their card and account, thus balance enquiry and statement, amongst others.
The biometrics for transactions is another innovative security upgrade on the application to validate transactions. This feature includes fingerprint for transactions, allowing the customer to use his or her fingerprint to consummate all transactions.
Other added features include frequent transaction; dashboard flexibility and personalisation; smoother transaction experience and improved beneficiary management.
With the frequent transaction feature, the user is able to easily access his or her frequently completed transactions – airtime, transfers and bill payments – and reinitiate such with the clicks of a button. This is an additional menu which can easily be accessed from the dashboard. Airtime top-up and data purchase have also been improved, as customers are able to select phone numbers directly from their phone contacts.
The application has been upgraded with a smoother experience on funds transfer, bill payments and airtime transactions as customers can add and delete beneficiary without having to repeatedly enter the recipients’ details over and over again. Users can also take a photo or select from the Avatar (available icons) to personalize their dashboard and beneficiaries for Transfers, Bills Payment & Airtime Transactions by uploading a picture to associate with their beneficiary, especially the more frequent ones.
The dashboard has been designed to reflect the lifestyle and social pattern of the user as it can be customized by adding any profile picture of choice. The dashboard also enables users to monitor their spending patterns over a period. It shows the inflow and outflow of funds on their account.
In need of a loan to meet that pressing need, FirstMobile has you covered and puts you at an advantage with the FirstAdvance and Nano Loan features.
Keen on watching the next blockbuster in your favourite cinema, with FirstMobile, you can book for movie ticket(s) ahead of time, thereby averting the risk of being told the movie is sold-out upon getting to the movie theatre. You can also book for flights at your earliest convenience on FirstMobile.
“The upgraded FirstMobile is built to reflect FirstBank’s resolve at reinforcing the digitisation of our payment systems, whilst putting our customers at an edge to conveniently meet their everyday needs at any time, irrespective of where they are. Indeed, this upgrade makes the application new, as it is designed to suit the social pattern and lifestyle of our customers.” said Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products.
“With over 3.7million active users on FirstMobile across android and ios devices, we remain steadfast at regularly reinventing our services on the App with dynamic and innovative capabilities to resonate our focus to deliver state of the art digital solutions to all our customers at all times, irrespective of where they are” he concluded.
Only recently, FirstMobile was awarded the “Best Mobile Banking App” in the country at the Global Business Outlook Awards.
COVID 19 Rebound: We are building Entrepreneurs and supporting financial Inclusion through Xpress Point Agents – Ecobank
Ecobank Nigeria has reiterated that its agency banking scheme, also known as Xpress Points, is building entrepreneurs and pushing financial inclusion to the large unbanked and under-banked population in Nigeria. The Ecobank Xpress Point enables eligible Agents to carry out financial transactions on behalf of Ecobank (www.Ecobank.com) and earn commission on every transaction processed. The consumer experience is very good as customers can do simple deposit, payment and transfers in their own neighbourhood rather than travel for hours to a bank branch. Ecobank Xpress Points is also a channel that can be used for the deployment of national social intervention programmes of the Government.
The aim of the Xpress Point is to let every Nigerian and household have access to Ecobank services within their neoghbourhood to provide easy banking services.
Speaking in Lagos, Nike Kolawole, Head, Agency Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, said unemployed and retired persons should avail themselves the opportunity to earn extra income by keying into services offered by the bank as Xpress point agents. According to her, the Ecobank Xpress point which are in various neighbourhoods across the country, are well positioned to facilitate basic financial transactions, with the process and services simplified to attend to a broad spectrum of the society.
She further disclosed that agency banking in general, brings about economic and youth empowerment by way of job creation and earning extra income, adding that small savers can easily do their savings at home or near their home. This leads to financial inclusion of the underbanked in the country.
For now, Ecobank has over 43,000 agents across Africa. The agents carry out financial transactions on behalf of Ecobank and earn commission per transaction processed. Xpress Points can also be used as a channel for the deployment of national social intervention programmes, especially at this time that we are fighting the impact of lockdowns due to the COVID-19.”
Kolawole listed the services offered by the Xpress point agents as; cash in, cash out, fund transfer, bills payment, airtime recharge, remittance and account opening, among others. She added that the services are available for “sole proprietors, partnerships, co-operative societies, microfinance banks, companies with large distribution network – like petrol stations, FMCGs, telecommunication companies, super agents, aggregators and unregistered businesses such as petty traders, hair saloon and others.”
Ecobank boasts of a bouquet of digital channels comprising solutions aimed at delivering convenient, accessible and reliable financial services. For instance, users of the bank’s USSD code, *326# carry out transactions without paying session charges. The USSD platform, *326#, makes it possible to open an Xpress account and Xpress Save account instantly. The bank’s mobile banking app, Ecobank Mobile offers the option of generating a virtual card; this comes in handy as customers are continually turning to web payments for their shopping and payments. The Ecobank virtual card offers the flexibility and convenience of creating a shopping card that is not linked to a customer’s account but is fully capable of carrying out online payments. The virtual card can also be shared with loved ones as a gift card for their own shopping.
UBA Foundation’s National Essay Competition 2019 to Reward Schools with Highest Entries
UBA Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has commenced the 2019 edition of its annual National Essay Competition in Nigeria with a call for entries.
Now in its 9th year, the essay competition, targeted at senior secondary school students in Nigeria is organised annually, as part of UBA Foundation’s education initiative which is aimed at promoting the reading culture and encouraging healthy and intellectual competition amongst secondary school students in Nigeria and across Africa.
At the media launch which took place at UBA headquarters in Lagos, the call for entries was announced today. Speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer, UBA Foundation, Mrs. Bola Atta, said the essay competition, which is in its ninth edition, will provide an opportunity for students in secondary schools across the country to put in their entries and to win prizes in the form of educational grants to study in any university of their choice on the African continent.
Beginning from last year, the prize money increased significantly as the UBA Foundation emphasises that education remains one of the foundation’s key initiatives.
The first prize for the UBA National Essay Competition is a N2 million educational grant, while the second and third prizes are N1.5 million and N1m educational grants respectively.
Speaking to the students and participants at the event, Bola Atta said, “To us at the Foundation, this is our drive to improve the quality of education across the continent. It is also our way of giving back to the society. The competition is a key aspect of our investment drive in human capital, as we seek to improve knowledge base, allow students to express themselves and write creatively. We will continue to sustain the initiative because education is very important to UBA and we are more than committed to providing the necessary support for students in Nigeria and across the African continent,” she noted.
“We are driven by the mantra to do well and do good and we will not relent in our efforts to touch lives through our various projects, and initiatives,” Bola Atta told the excited students.
Explaining the modalities for the competition, she stated that entries received from students for the competition will be reviewed by a distinguished panel of judges made up of professors from reputable Nigerian Universities, who will then shortlist 12 best essays for further assessment.
Following this, a second round of the competition will involve the 12 finalists who will write a second supervised essay from which three best essays will be selected as the overall winners from the 12 finalists emerged from the first round of the competition.
Atta explained that the choice of essay for this year’s competition is one that helps promote creative and analytical thinking in students and helps them to be problem solvers. This year, the topic is “What do you think the government should do to control fraud in Nigeria?”
It is important to note that apart from Nigeria, the national essay competition has been taken to other African countries including Ghana and Senegal. More countries including Mozambique and Kenya will kick off the initiative this year. A unique component of this year’s edition is that, schools that turn in the highest number of entries will be recognised and rewarded a special prize by the Foundation.
Also speaking at the call to entries today, the Group Head, Direct Sales Agency, Ogechi Altraide, who spoke on the benefits of reading and writing essays, motivated the students to research into the topics and give it their best shot, adding that there is the need for them to focus on adapting themselves to happenings in their generation, and to have a growth mindset. This she explained, will ensure that they can apply themselves and conquer whatever challenges they are faced with.
According to her, reading and writing go hand in hand, and so it is important for students to keep abreast of how the economy can develop through reading and writing.
An English teacher from Holy Child College, Ikoyi, Mrs Ezechukwu Ngozi, gave the students tips on how to write good essays, and advised them to keep to the proper tenets of essay writing to come out tops in the competition.
As the CSR platform for the UBA Group, UBA Foundation embodies the Group’s CSR objectives and seeks to impact positively on societies through a number of laudable projects and initiatives.
Each year, the bank donates thousands of books to students in Nigeria and across Africa, under the ‘Read Africa’ initiative to encourage and promote the reading culture in secondary schools.
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