By Omobayo Azeez
Fear emanating from the swift spread of deadly coronavirus disease (Covid-19) may have spurred increase in spend on some telecoms services and adoption of electronic banking systems among Nigerians.
Although, some telecommunications companies and banks have been exposed to the negative impacts of the pandemic through channels such as the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the prescribed avoidance of crowd as a preventive measure is giving fillip to patronage of some of other services of these companies.
Speaking on the development, Olusola Teniola, president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigerian (ATCON), explained that listed companies particularly could not be isolated from the macro-economic impacts of the current situation.
He said, “As you know, we have two of our member companies that are listed on the NSE and they are not exempts from the micro and macro economic impacts that Covid-19 has created.”
Teniola however told business a.m. that as the current situation demands self-isolation and avoidance of crowd, the consumers are resorting getting things done digitally, and consequently consume more of telecoms services, which translate to more revenue for operators.
Teniola said, “On the flip side, with self-isolation, and with federal government directive that many institutions be closed to ensure that the spread of the virus is curtailed, this will naturally lead to change in consumer behavior.
“These changes are reflected in the uptake in the usage of collaborative tools to communicate, to do business and work from home or digitally working or e-learning starting from primary, secondary to tertiary institutions.
“So, we have seen from the telecoms sector side a ramp up in demand for voice, data services, multimedia services and services that can be beneficial with remote access to ensure that the spread of the service can be contained. We see this as positive to the industry going forward until the virus has is eventually contained.
In another development, banks in the country have urged their customers to utilise their digital self-service solutions because of the coronavirus affecting different sectors globally.
For instance, Fidelity Bank said in a mail to its customers: “Our industry has been drastically impacted by the coronavirus outbreak worldwide and as a result, we have implemented precautionary measures to help safeguard the well-being of our staff, customers and communities we serve.
“It is important that you are able to access funds to run your business or pay bills even in these times. Currently, our branch locations are open and fully staffed to assist with all your banking needs
“However, take advantage of our robust online banking solutions available for your ease, convenience and as a further precautionary measure.”
Ecobank also said in a statement on Thursday that its customers could utilise the Ecobank Mobile App, Ecobank Online, EcobankPay, Ecobank OmniPlus, OmniLite and the RapidTransfer App without having to visit branches.
“This is as part of efforts to ensure social distancing which will help curtail the spread of COVID-19.
“Customers can bank from anywhere by utilising digital solutions to easily access their bank accounts, make payments, transfer funds, process salaries, and carry out other ancillary banking transactions from the comfort of their homes and offices without visiting branches.”
However, the banks have kept their branches open and available to customers who chose to visit to carry out their transactions.
Visits to some of the branches in Lagos and Ogun states showed that all the branches were equipped with all prescribed preventative measures.
It was however observed that decision to use provided apparatuses as preventive measure against Covid-19 by bank customers remained optional, and many of them refused to comply.