Lender Breaking Card Issuance Barrier With Creativity, Innovation

Like any other products in the banking sector, banks in the country have been introducing various forms of card products targeted at customers to the admiration of experts and stakeholders.

The Banking sector, during the 1990’s, had vast amounts of New Information Technologies (NIT). Up-growing banks expended huge sums on websites, sophisticated software packages, teleconferencing equipment, broadband networks, mobile communications and other digital technologies.

Such investments helped them keep abreast of competitors that were making similar expenditures. Today, because banks are daily churning out innovations as a result of increasing demand for more profits, turnover of resources, guaranteed customer satisfaction and as well as new vision for strategic breakthrough in a competitive banking environment.

As customers seek for multiple service providers for broad selection and convenience, bank also seek for streams of customers. One of the ways banks make life easier and convenient was the innovations that had characterised issuance of payment cards in the country.

For a financial institution of high pedigree, it is not uncommon for its top managers to be creative and constantly innovative.

For instance, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank, attributes the bank’s consistent growth in the past 125 years to innovation and reinvention of its products and services aimed at satisfying customers’ needs and aspirations.

One of such innovations was the introduction of the Visa Multi Currency Card, an All-in One-Card and first of its kind to be offered by any financial institution in Nigeria.

This card can be linked to all of four currencies namely: NAIRA, USD, EURO and GBP accounts.

It is an international card with Chip and PIN technology which can be used to make payment anywhere in the world and across all channels – ATMs, POS & Web.

With the Visa Multi-Currency card, FirstBank customers – within and outside Nigeria – can now enjoy the luxury of having their local and foreign denominated accounts in any currency, linked to a single Debit card.

The Visa Multi-Currency Card is designed to ease the daily cashless transactional needs of customers regardless of where they are across the world.

Amongst the many benefits of the Visa Multi-Currency card are Point of Sale ( PoS) ,and Online purchases, access to and use of ATMs worldwide. There is no cash collateral requirement prior to its issuance.

It is an enhancement to the existing Visa Debit Dual Currency card and can be linked to either or all your NAIRA, USD, EURO and GBP accounts.

Speaking on the card launch, Mr. Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Product said; FirstBank takes pride in pioneering the Visa Multi Currency Card in the country, as we remain committed to providing products and services that are designed to ensure the banking convenience of our customers regardless of their location.”

“This card is designed to make traveling fun for our customers and ensure they have a seamless transaction experience during their vacation, tourism and other business-related trips around the globe”, he concluded.

The bank last year became the first financial institution in Nigeria to achieve issuing a whopping 10 million cards to customers across the country.

The bank is now among two other African banks to achieve the milestone.

The groundbreaking feat is very similar to when the bank in December, 2015 and May 2016 was the first financial institution in the country to achieve sustained alternative channels transaction volumes of 100 million transactions.

Based on this and other milestones in card issuance, the bank won three awards at the Interswitch Connect Sales Dinner and awards held in two months ago.

The event was to recognise excellent partners and institutions that are frontliners at bolstering cashless transations and payments in Nigeria, whilst promoting financial inclusion, thus bridging the gap between the banked and unbanked across the nook and cranny of the country.

The awards won by FirstBank at the event are; Most improved Mobile Application, Highest Transacting Bank (across interswitch’s solution) and Highest Number of Verve Transacting Cards (Unique Cards) for respectively having the highest total volume of transactions to the tune of 95.1 million transactions across three services (Airtime, Bill payment and transfers), its outstanding performance in revenue generation (as regards having highest transactions across Interswitch’s solutions) and being the Bank with the highest and outstanding performance in the issuance of unique Verve cards. FirstBank has issued a total of 7 million unique Verve cards.

Receiving the awards on behalf of FirstBank, Mrs. Folasade Femi Lawal, the bank’s Head, Card Business said: “We are pleased to be recognized for these awards, especially as they add to the spice of an eventfulness 2019, the year of our 125th anniversary.

“The awards are indeed a reflection of the trust by Nigerians on our digital channels as we leave no stone unturned at reinventing ourselves, products and services with a view to remain steadfast at being a frontrunner at promoting digitisation of the industry bearing in mind that we are that very institution that have since 1894 witnessed the various facets and growth that defines banking in the country. We commend Interswitch for their giant strides at being a gateway to promote a cashless Nigeria”.

Only recently, FirstBank was recognised for its high transactional volume and leading role at promoting cashless transactions and financial inclusion in the country by winning two awards – Cashless Driver: Highest Volume in Bill Payments and Cashless Driver: Highest Transaction Volume in Real-Time Payments –  at the CBN Electronic Payments Incentive Scheme (EPIS) Efficiency Awards.

Adeduntan recently said the bank was driven by the desire to put its customers and stakeholders at the heart of its business.

“For over 125 years of our existence, we have focused on providing excellent financial services to meet the needs of our esteemed customers. We continue to improve on our products and also create new ones that suit their specific financial needs.

“The reason why we have been successful is our ability to invent and reinvent ourselves. You can only be successful like that when you put your customer at the centre piece of all your actions. That is the secret of our success,” said Adeduntan.

According to him, the bank leverages Information Technology (IT) infrastructure to improve overall service delivery levels across all key infrastructure parameters: speed, performance, availability, security and scalability.

“This will enable us to deliver great customer experiences, take advantage of new digital technologies to reduce costs, improve quality, ensure transparency, and create value. We are building the next-generation digital bank.

“It is in our DNA to continuously transform and project for the future by reinventing ourselves, re-engineering and creating value for our customers by rethinking next generation solutions ahead of our peers in the industry.  “We are positioned to always put our customers’ current and future needs at the core of our business,” Adeduntan stated emphatically.

He noted that the bank was also transforming the way it communicated and executed its corporate strategy through rethinking the approach to implementing projects, collaborating, measuring the outcomes and realising value from all of its transformation investments.

“The transformation programme is ongoing, and a lot of employees are already fully involved at various levels, leading and contributing to these transformation initiatives,” Adeduntan added.

He highlighted some of the laudable achievements of the bank to include the first bank to launch the cash deposit ATM in Nigeria in 2011, the second bank in Africa and the first in Nigeria to issue 10 million cards.

Adeduntan said the bank was also recognised by Interswitch as the first financial institution in Nigeria to achieve 100 million sustained monthly transactions in electronic payment in December 2015 and in May 2016, respectively.

He explained that the bank, in line with its financial banking drive, instituted agent banking with over 27,000 agencies – so far achieved – across the country to reach the unbanked.

According to him, the bank in 2008 was the first Nigerian bank and first quoted company in the country to hit two trillion naira market capitalisation. Mr. Chuma Ezirim, FirstBank’s Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, said, during the Bank’s launch of Chat Banking on WhatsApp recently, FirstBank would continue to offer endearing services to its customers.

To him, creativity and innovation are not new to FirstBank, and the twin virtue has fueled the Bank’s foray abroad. He said in furtherance with the Bank’s innovation drive, it acquired a new subsidiary, Banque International de Credit (BIC), one of the leading banks in the Democratic Republic of Congo in October 2011.

Culled from Independent


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