By Friday Atufe
I often wonder about the wind of change that is sweeping across the Nigerian banking industry these days, especially the deployment of mobile telephony for seamless and convenient banking. Indeed, gone are the days when one must visit a bank physically to carry out all forms of financial transactions.
Now, what is in vogue is digital banking which beckons on customers, young and old, to jettison all notions of traditional banking. With digital banking, one can actually open a bank account from the comfort of his home, office or even in transit using a mobile app without having to physically appear at the doorsteps of a banking institution.
This trend, which is fast gaining ground in the Nigerian banking space, is being embraced and encouraged by the youths and people in the middle class of the population.
Undoubtedly, the digital banking revolution which started with the introduction of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and mobile telephony in the early 1990s and 2000s has now become even more imperative with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic which has left in its wake the need to maintain social distancing in public places.
According to McKinsey & Company, the digital revolution in banking that started with most traditional banks offering their customers high-quality web and mobile sites/apps has now become an alternative approach where digital becomes not merely an additional feature but a fully integrated mobile experience with customers using their smartphones or tablets to do everything from opening a new account and making payments to resolving credit card billing disputes, all without ever setting foot in a physical branch of a bank.
Nonetheless, digital banking is part of the broader context for the move to online banking, where banking services are delivered over the internet. The shift from traditional to digital banking has been gradual and remains ongoing, and is constituted by differing degrees of banking service digitisation. Digital banking involves high levels of process automation and web-based services and it provides the ability for users to access financial data through desktop, mobile and ATM services.
It is against this background that Sterling Bank Plc recently launched its OneBank App. According to the chief technology officer of Sterling Bank, Olayinka Oni, “We figured that customers approach banks for four key things – when they have a need to do payments and lending transactions or when they need to do investments and when they need financial advisory services.
“So, the notion of OneBank was to abstract everything a customer needs to do in physical interaction with a bank into a digital platform. The OneBank App is our digital bank to ensure that everything a customer needs to do in physical engagement with us can be done on a digital platform with ease.”
Besides, banks and Fintechs are also leveraging the use of technology to disrupt the usual methods of banking in a bid to cater to the needs of the growing middle class who make up about 25 percent of the population. This is a group with growing spending power and who need to easily manage their finances and connect their growing capital to better investment opportunities.
One of such Fintech platforms that readily comes to mind is I-invest. Launched in 2018, I-invest is a digital investment platform that has been upgraded to reflect the peculiarity of the moment. It is now changing the investment game in equity investment in Nigeria. It is a mobile application which allows current and aspiring investors to purchase securities and other related instruments, especially treasury bills without the aid of a broker.
From the foregoing, the question that will be on the mind of any discerning bank customer that is reading this piece might be: What will digital banking do for me?
From personal experience, the Sterling Bank’s OneBank App is enabling me to do all banking and payment transactions as everything that I need in a bank has been placed on my palm.
The app also offers me easy banking and a wide range of convenient financial services as I enjoy some of its unique features such as self registration/onboarding, instant account opening, domestic and foreign transfers, credit card requests, virtual card application and use and cash pick up – withdraw money from ATM in branch without card.
I also buy airtime and immediate data top-up, bills payment for water, power, pay TV and membership subscription of professional associations, among others, and the app is the single access point for all my bank’s digital solutions.
With the Sterling’s OneBank App, I can open savings and current accounts as well as apply for loans and open and maintain an investment asset and it has also enabled me to enjoy a new lifestyle that I had never seen before in the Nigerian banking space.
For me, the new app is an innovative approach to the business of finance that distinguishes between old ways of banking and convenience and seamless banking which Sterling Bank represents as an ever-evolving financial service provider.
I therefore encourage savvy bank customers to embrace digital banking so that they can enjoy convenience, seamless and banking services.
• Friday Atufe writes from Lagos.