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UBA’s LEO: Celebrating three Years of Revolutionised Banking Services

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Technology has been a veritable gift to mankind, and over the years, it has been responsible for creating amazingly useful resources which put all the information individuals need at their fingertips. The development of technology has also led to so many mind-blowing discoveries, better facilities, and better luxuries, which has in-turn helped to improve lifestyle and standard of living.

For instance, through relevant technological development, the average individual has been empowered to shop online and carry out seamless transaction any time of the day or night from the comfort of his own home or business place.

To this end, forward thinking companies and financial institutions with eyes in the future who have been conversant with the new trend in customer behaviour, have painstakingly designed new products and services tailor-made to meet the growing needs of customers anytime anywhere.

It is bearing this in mind that Pan-African financial Institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, changed the face of e-banking in the African continent for the first time with the introduction of Leo – UBA’s Chat Banker. The idea of Leo, which was birthed in 2018, was to enable customers make use of their social media accounts to carry out key banking transactions with ease.

This is the first time ever that a financial institution in Africa evolved a one-stop solution to simplify the way customers transact, a key essential in today’s fast-paced world with demands for quick-time transactions and response.

With Leo’s help, customers have been able to open new accounts with ease, receive instant transaction notifications, check their balances on the go, transfer funds and airtime top up. Cheque confirmation, bill payments, loan application, account freezing, request for mini statements, flight bookings, airtime and data purchases, are some other services that the chat banking BOT has been helping customers to carry out since 2018.

And Leo, the Artificial Intelligent Bot which carries out seamless conversations with his customers – who he calls his friends by the way- has achieved this and more in its three-year existence; allowing users to carry out quick, fast and recurring transaction with ease from their popular social media accounts such as Facebook and Whatsapp.

No wonder the bank has earned a lot of laurels and accolades in the last three years confirming Leo’s global acceptance and recognitions, as pointed out by UBA’s Group Manging Director, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, some of which are:

‘Africa’s Best Digital Bank of the year’ by Euromoney; The Most; Innovative Bank of the year’ by International Finance; ‘Best Customer Engagement Tool’ by Africa Fintech; Pulse magazine rated Leo on WhatsApp as ‘The best WhatsApp Banking App’; ‘The Best Social Banking platform’ in Uganda; ‘Excellence in Automated Chatbot Initiative’ by Finnovex Awards; ‘Next Generation Class of 2019’ by CIBN; ‘Best Automated Chatbot Initiative, Application or Programme’ by The Asian Banker. The list is endless.

“The formulation of this product, is consistent with UBA’s Customer 1st philosophy, where we have been doing things not the way we like, but focusing on what the customers want, where they want it, and in the exact platform they want it; Uzoka explained. “At UBA, we have been continuously working with technology giants that have the global capacity to ensure not only seamless but also effortless banking for the millions of our customers across Africa; as all the bank’s subsidiaries in Africa have activated Leo to perform financial services for customers.

Continuing, he said, “Since 2018, Leo has been helping with most transactions and to deliver any form of banking services. And this has been highlighted more especially during the lockdown occasioned by the COvid-19 virus, as Leo assisted all its users on all major social media platforms to carry out all their banking activities without having to physically visit a branch. This, to us, remains an admirable feat because with Leo, the banking needs of our customers have become easy and simple – as simple as chatting”; Uzoka pointed out.

Within three years of operations, UBA’s Leo has recorded a number of milestones including opened a total of 390,756 accounts; achieving 2,169,384 subscribers; conducting a total of 9,605,703 transaction count worth a value of N81,530,918,868. Leo which has over 2.1m unique users has also generated over 20 million conversations and over 85 million engagements; with such impressive feedback and usage and remains the only AI BoT showcased at the F8 in Mark’s Zuckerberg’s opening remarks.

UBA’s Group Head, Digital Banking, Sampson Aneke, reiterated that Leo is not just a chat machine, but an artificial intelligence personality meant to address any type of banking concerns raised by customers.

“Leo has been operating a secure lifestyle banking platform on Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and IOS and Andriod to assist customers with their transactions while chatting with your friends and business partners. The security with this platform has been that for every transaction, a One Time Password (OTP) is generated to the phone number that is registered on your account,” he explained, and added that the bank is working tirelessly to improve LEO’s services to the customers in the coming weeks.

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-one million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touch points, in 20 African countries. With presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance and ancillary banking services.

 

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Aje Festival 2021: Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II and Princess Aderonke Ademiluyi To Launch Biggest Adire Textile Factory In Ile-Ife

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His Imperial Majesty, The Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II and Princess Ronke Ademiluyi has described the launch of the Adire Textile Factory in Ile-Ife as to provide opportunities for cultural exchange between African and international students of design to learn about the adire fabric.

To this end, Ooni and Princess Ademiluyi who is also the Founder of Africa Fashion Week London and Nigeria hinted that the biggest Adire Textile Factory would be launch on the 22nd of February 2021 to commemorate Annual Aje festival in the state.

Also, the Ooni of Ife has commissioned Africa Fashion Week London and Nigeria to build a new Cultural Centre located in Ile-Ife, in South West Nigeria.

The new cultural center was described as a massive capital project that will require national and international funding sets to be laid on 30,000 squaremeter of land in Ile-Ife.

Ademiluyi said the Cultural Centre will be a repository for the indigenous arts and crafts found in Africa.  It will provide an ecosystem for development, teaching and learning guided by tradition, innovation and sustainability and will connect the stories of indigenous arts to the heritage of Africa.”

According to her “Other facilities within the complex will include a gallery for visiting exhibitions, a textile museum, a digital library, heritage artisan village (which will include the bronze casting, terracotta pottery and wood carving); an aso-oke cloth weaving pavilion, Yoruba culture academy, a design innovation lab and timeshare residential lodges.”

“The cultural complex project starts with the opening of phase one – an Adire Textile Hub which heralds the revival of indigenous fabric production and creative arts in Ife.

“The Hub will generate employment and become an example of the Non-Oil Export Initiative promoted by the Nigerian government.  It will increase the capacity of the artisans working in Ile-Ife and educate on the importance of sustainability and ethical and environmental practices.”

Princess Ronke Ademiluyi is an award winning fashion icon with huge commitments in positioning Nigeria as formidable force in the leading other top nations in the world’s fashion industry.

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FIRSTBANK PROVIDES LOAN FACILITIES TO ITS FIRSTMONIE AGENTS

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In furtherance of the need to promote the business activities of its foremost agent banking platform – Firstmonie Agents – Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has announced the provision of loan facilities – up to one million naira – to its banking agents. The Bank currently has over 86,300 Firstmonie Agents, spread across the country’s 772 Local Government Areas.

With its location in every neighbourhood, Firstmonie Agents have been integral to filling the financial exclusion gap, providing convenient banking services that are easily accessible, thereby saving time and travel costs for individuals in the suburbs and remote environments that have no access to financial services.

The  Bank’s financial inclusion activities is in line with the mandate of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure the availability of affordable financial products and services to all individuals and groups of people in the country; irrespective of location, literacy levels, familiarity with technology and accessibility to modern infrastructural facilities. The Firstmonie Agent channel is amongst the Bank’s many initiatives to expand financial access in the country.

Appreciating the Firstmonie Agents, Mr. Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said “the roles played by our Firstmonie Agents in promoting businesses across the nooks and crannies of the country cannot be overemphasized as they have continued to set the pace in extending financial inclusion to communities with little or no access to financial services.

“With our Firstmonie Agents in every neighbourhood, several communities have witnessed a surge in business and financial activities, which is contributory to national growth and development. We commend our Agents and are delighted to support them with credit facilities, which they can access 24hours a day in less than 2minutes.”

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FBN HOLDINGS PLC ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD APPOINTMENTS

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FBN Holdings PLC (“FBNHoldings), Nigeria’s leading financial holdings company, has announced the appointments of Mr. Seni Adetu and Mrs. Juliet Anammah as Independent Non-Executive directors, while Mr. Otu Hughes has been appointed as a Non-Executive director. These appointments are subject to the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (“CBN”).

Speaking on the appointments, the Group Chairman of FBN Holdings Plc, Dr. Oba Otudeko, CFR, said, “On behalf of the board, management and staff of FBNHoldings, I am delighted to welcome the trio of Seni Adetu, Mrs. Juliet Anammah and Otu Hughes to the FBNHoldings board as they bring on board their combined professional experience and expertise of over 97 years, cutting across various industries and institutions of global repute.”

“I am certain that these rich experiences will have immediate and long-term impact on the group and its subsidiaries across Africa and beyond,” he added further.

SENI ADETU

Seni Adetu, a former Managing Director/CEO Guinness Nigeria Plc, has 35 years of private sector experience garnered at the highest levels primarily with John Holt Plc, Coca-Cola International and Diageo (Guinness) Plc in various countries within and outside Africa. He holds a first degree in Chemical Engineering and Masters in Business Administration (with specialization in Marketing), both from the University of Lagos. Adetu was at various times Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria Ltd, Managing Director of Coca-Cola, and the first African Managing Director/CEO and Executive Vice Chairman of Guinness Ghana Plc.

In 2009, Adetu was appointed Group Managing Director/CEO East African Breweries (EABL), the biggest company in East Africa, based in Kenya, during which time he was named Runner-up Forbes/CNBC CEO of the Year 2012 in East Africa.  He was subsequently appointed MD/CEO of Guinness Nigeria Plc and Executive Chairman Diageo Brands Nigeria thus, again becoming the first Nigerian in nearly 20 years to lead that company. Adetu has had working stints in Hungary and the UK and has been exposed to various high-profile leadership courses globally including at the prestigious Harvard Business School.

He has served on the boards of various multinational companies in both Executive and Non-Executive capacity in Nigeria and abroad and was until recently an Independent Non-Executive Director on the Board of Fidelity Bank Plc and Non-Executive Director at APT Pensions Ltd among others.

Adetu is the Founder/Group CEO of Algorithm Media Limited and Ogilvy Nigeria Limited, two leading Marketing Communications agencies in Nigeria, in partnership with WPP, the world’s largest advertising and media agency network. He is a member of many reputable social clubs including the Metropolitan Club Lagos. He is also the immediate past National Vice President of the University of Lagos Alumni Association.

 

JULIET ANAMMAH

Juliet Anammah is Chairwoman Jumia Nigeria & Head of Institutional Affairs Jumia Group. Jumia is the largest eCommerce platform in Africa and the first African Tech start-up to be listed on the NYSE

She is an experienced executive with 28+ years of professional experience including 7 + years at Partner / Chief Executive level.

Before her current role, she was the CEO of Jumia Nigeria. Prior to joining Jumia, Juliet spent 16 years at Accenture and was the Partner managing Accenture’s Consumer Goods Practice in West Africa.

A Pharmacist by training, she started her career in Sales & Marketing with May and Baker (Sanofi-Aventis) in 1991 before joining Accenture as a Senior Strategy Consultant in 1999.

Juliet also serves on Corporate and non-profit Boards in a non-executive capacity. She is currently on the Boards of Flour Mills of Nigeria and APT Pensions as Independent non-executive member. She is also an EXCO member of Consultative Action Group for the Poor (CGAP) a not for profit agency funded by the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and several Bilaterial/ Multilateral agencies.

She holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, an MBA (Finance track) and is an alumnus of both Wharton College University of Pennsylvania (AMP) and Yale University.

OTU HUGHES

Otu Hughes has over 25 years’ experience in operations and strategy, principal investment, mergers and acquisition as well as capital raising in both the US and Sub-Saharan Africa. He started his career in 1993 with Lehman Brothers, providing strategic and financial advisory services to government entities and companies in privatisation and empowerment issues, notably Brazil (power and mining), Ghana (mining), South Africa (empowerment programmes), amongst others.

Otu joined Deutsche Bank in 1998 as Associate– Mergers, Acquisitions and Corporate Advisory Group with the oversight responsibilities of providing mergers, acquisitions, corporate and strategic financial advisory services to companies and government agencies across industries and countries, rising to Vice President. He is the Co-founder and Principal of Rofgam/Hughes Consulting and also worked at KeyBanc Capital Markets, amongst many others.

Otu is the Co-Founder & Managing Director of Candesco Limited, set up with the primary responsibility of developing and managing off-grid and independent power projects for Sub-Sahara Africa market, providing affordable, clean and stable power to clusters of communities.

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