As the world adjusts to the new normal of working from home, social distancing, face mask and handwashing, it had become more imperative that thing cannot remain the same in the banking industry.
Banks in Nigeria, having had to close shop in major cities in Nigeria as the government enforced a five-week total lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, took to innovation so as to be able to continue to serve their teeming customers.
Also, the lockdown, had made many Nigerians who had not deemed it fit to open bank accounts or subscribe to the technological advancements in the banking industry, to rethink their stance. The first week of ease in the lockdown had seen a large throng of people in banking who wanted to open bank accounts.
First Bank of Nigeria in addressing this issue without compromising on the safety of its staff and customers had announced that it reinforced its technology infrastructure to enable anyone in the country open a FirstBank account through their mobile phones, without visiting any of its branches nationwide.
The investment in the Bank’s mobile banking infrastructure is in furtherance of the need to deepen financial inclusion in the country, enabling account opening to be carried out on its *894# USSD banking, FirstMobile (self-service telephone banking), its website – www.firstbanknigeria.com – as well as the Bank’s staff, through the Direct Sales Executive (DSE) application installed on their mobile phone, ATMs and the bank’s over 55,000 FirstMonie Agents spread across the country. Opening an account with FirstBank through any of these means is seamless, convenient, fast, and user-friendly.
The DSE App is an end to end encrypted mobile application installed on the phone(s) of FirstBank staff which enables them to open an account for to-be customers. Upon the completion of the account opening process via the DSE App, the customer is notified of his or her account number through a text message on the mobile phone used to register the account.
With FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking, various banking activities are carried out on a mobile phone – across the four major GSM network operators in the country – without the use of the internet. To open an account via this means, dial *894# then select ‘open an account’ to provide the information required or by simply dialling *894*0#. The Bank currently has over 9.5 million of its nearly 20 million customers on its USSD banking platform.
The FirstMonie Agent Banking is an agent banking initiative from the bank that is designed to take banking closer to people, thereby bridging the gap between the banked and unbanked. FirstMonie is a channel through which various banking activities like FirstBank account opening, funds transfer, bill payments, data and call credit recharge services, amongst others are carried out. The Agent Banking initiative has also contributed to reducing poverty, being responsible for the indirect employment of over 150,000 people across the country.
According to Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “beyond opening an account in any of our over 700 branches, we are delighted with the investments at reinventing our business processes over the years, especially with the use of technology. This has been critical to staying relevant in the industry for over 126 years and being the financial partner of the first choice to all our customers and Nigerians, irrespective of where they are.”
According to the bank, creating these virtual ways of opening a bank account with us – thus; the staff DSE App, ATMs, FirstMonie Agents, *894# USSD banking, FirstMobile and our website – reinforces our resolve to ensure that more Nigerians and residents have access to banking, especially through our state of the art financial services and we remain resolute to being the key to banking, enabling business and financial activities that would continue to propel the country’s economic growth and development.
Culled from National Economy