Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIBN) Consultative Committee organizing the13th Annual Bankers Conference and Managing Director Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan has said banks in Nigeria are leveraging Digital technology to drive customer satisfaction, especially in response to the demands of COVID-19. According to Mr. Akinwuntan, the evolution of digital banking is visible in the use of Automated Teller Machines (ATM), Point of Sales Services (PoS), Mobile banking services, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) amongst several others.
He said bank customers in Nigeria now have the ability to open bank accounts remotely and this was made possible by the forward thinking of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), that established the tier 1, 2 and 3 accounts, to enable first level account opening by customers via their phones or through the internet. The “tier 1 account, he noted is a basic account that operates like a wallet and can be opened straight from the mobile phone. With Ecobank for instance, you can just dial *326# to open an account. He stated that as you climb up the value chain, the account can then be upgraded to either tier 2 or 3, which would require a Bank Verification Number (BVN).
The BVN is a biometric registration of customers in the financial system which allows a customer to have a single identity within the financial system. Its introduction is intended to tackle cybercrime and ATM fraud. This according to the bank Managing Director is a revolutionary step credited to the banking industry.
Mr Akinwuntan was speaking during an interview session on Arise TV to sensitize the public on the annual Banking and Finance Conference slated for the 15th and 16th of September, 2020. The conference themed; “Facilitating a Sustainable Future: The Role of Banking and Finance” will bring together prominent bankers; major economic players; captains of industry; regulators; policy makers; members of the academic community and other stakeholders in the banking and finance industry.
Mr Akinwuntan, also noted that Nigerian banks are determined to take financial services to every household so that everyone can participate effectively in the growth of the largest economy in Africa. In his words “the thinking amongst the larger populace pre-COVID-19 was that one must go to the physical bank branches to transact. Today the case is different with the introduction of Agency Banking. Agency banking refers to our branchless banking model that allows us , the traditional banks to extend our network of branches and services in a cost-efficient manner through authorized agents.
This is part of our distribution strategy to take banking service to the doorstep of the customer. We are extending our banking services to consumers’ neighborhood to offer even greater convenience and accessible financial services in a cost effective and secure manner through the use of technology. Agency location can be a beverage location, a supermarket, barber shop, tailors shop, a nearby vendor etc . This is the product of forward thinking of both the regulators, the telecoms and the participants that have embraced this”.
He maintained that “this is the major reason for the banking and finance conference coming up on the 15th and 16th of September, 2020, where we will be talking about facilitating a sustainable future and the role of banking and finance.
It is a forum that provides the platform for all the stakeholders, be it the policy makers, the analysts, the participants, business men and women, millennials and the banks to come together to deliberate on how best to leverage the platform, policies and trust that exist in our country, leveraging digital and to take the country into its rightful place in the committee of nations”.
The President and Chairman of Council of the CIBN, Mr. Bayo Olugbemi in a previous media interview had said the Institute for the first time is adopting a hybrid approach to the conference which will take place simultaneously, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja and the Bankers’ House, Adeola Hopewell Street, Lagos and through Zoom teleconferencing. He emphasized that “in line with the theme, participants will evaluate the role of the Banking and Finance Industry in engendering an inclusive sustainable growth as well as offering a direction on how to reposition the Industry for relevance in the new world order, by leveraging on digitalization to boost Nigeria’s economy.