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Ecobank Deepens Financial Inclusion via Tech

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Ecobank Deepens Financial Inclusion via Tech

One of the lenders making efforts to reach the unbanked and under-banked in the country is Ecobank Nigeria. The company has been pushing the frontiers of financial inclusion by leveraging on technology with the introduction EcobankPay, Xpress Agency Points and other digital platforms into the market space.

These products have provided key solutions to address the rapid shift to mobile payment and the adoption of digital channels across the country.

Confirming this was the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, who spoke at the Vanguard Economic Forum series on mobile money market and Fintech, with the theme Leveraging Fintech Innovation for Unlocking Growth and Competitiveness in Nigeria’s Mobile & Payment Ecosystem.

During the event held in Lagos, Mr Akinwuntan pointed out that Nigeria, which has improved financial inclusion from 47 percent to 63 percent in the last decade, remains a dynamic market with a lot of opportunities for digital financial expansion.

He stated that Ecobank has built an ecosystem that leverages digital technology to bring affordable, easy and convenient financial services to the people and businesses.

He described EcobankPay as “a lifestyle scan and pay digital payment and collection service which accepts payments from other platforms – mVisa, Masterpass and mCash.

“Payment can be made with any phone by scanning the QR code or using USSD at merchant locations,” he explained, adding that, “It’s unique offering, is its interoperability, that is, all bank customers in Nigeria can pay through their accounts in other banks.

“It is free to set up, as the shop owner only needs his/her QR code and phone for notifications to start receiving quick and easy payments. Merchant QR can also be set up via Facebook Messenger as well as USSD payment for low-income phone users.”

He noted that EcobankPay “is currently available at over 90,000 merchant locations across the country. This is in addition to over 6,000 Xpress point agent locations in the country.

“Also, we have over 8 million mobile banking subscribers across the Ecobank Group. Our Ecobank Mobile App is unique, as it is one universal app available in 33 countries where we operate in Africa.

“Furthermore, Ecobank has so far set up EcobankPay Zones in over 50 locations in different parts of the country. These are digital hubs enabling businesses within a location adopt Ecobank’s wide range of digital products for ease of payments for goods and services. The payment options at the zones include EcobankPay, Xpress points, Automated Teller Machines (ATMS) and Point of Sale (PoS)”.

Mr. Akinwuntan said also that the banks’ strategy includes collaboration with Fintechs to surmount the financial inclusion and adoption of financial services challenge.

Quoting the Efinafintech 2018 report, he noted that “there is an increased partnership with Fintechs as Nigeria is currently home to over 250 Fintechs and approximately 60 percent of them supporting payments and lending capabilities.”

“The cumulative Fintech funding by banks in Nigeria has surpassed $250 million in the past five years,” he pointed out.

“Ecobank hosts an annual Africa Fintech challenge and we are providing support infrastructure for Fintechs that excel at the challenge.

“At Ecobank our vision and mission focuses on providing Africans affordable and easy to access financial products and services. We believe innovation and technology could help remove barriers to 24/7 access to financial services through the use of self-service applications.”

He also noted that increasing mobile phone penetration has been a key enabler whilst the positive regulatory regime of the Central Bank is driving financial inclusion and seamless payment services initiatives in the country.

While commending Vanguard newspaper for organizing the event and choice of the theme and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s various initiatives targeted at promoting and creating enabling environment for mobile banking to thrive in the country, he made case for collaboration of all stakeholders to achieve the desired result.

Deputy Director, Payment System Department, CBN, Musa Jimoh, in his goodwill message at the forum said: “Cost of service is one of the reasons why people refuse to use some banking services including mobile money.

“So, we came out with a guidelines to bank charges to make sure that we regulate the charges and we have also come out with some other initiatives under the cashless scheme to see how we can bring people to the digital channel and reduce the high cost of operations in the bank. “There are several initiatives that CBN is pushing to ensure the mobile money operators grow and help us deepen financial inclusion.”

Earlier in her presentation, Professor Olayinka David-West, Academic Director, Lagos Business School, LBS, explained that financial inclusion is the access to unleash affordable financial services to the huge population of the unbanked and the under-banked in the society. She stated: “Affordable financial service is important because not everybody can afford to pay for account maintenance of N500 a month. “To address financial inclusion, innovation is important because it will help us address the easy access to financial services. It has nothing to do with literacy; it is about how do we design it knowing the capabilities of the people we are trying to serve.”

Ecobank is a leading pan-African bank with an unrivalled platform in Africa. Its vision is to build a world class Pan African bank contributing to the socioeconomic development of Africa, while also providing customers convenient accessible and reliable financial products and services.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Banking

Standard Chartered Introduces Smart Business Loan

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Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A credit facility package targeted at small business owners in Nigeria called Smart Business Loan (SBL) has been introduced by Standard Chartered Bank.

The product was designed to help players in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector meet their short to medium-term needs. It is an unsecured instalment/term loan to business banking clients within key target sectors.

A statement from the lender explained that qualified business banking clients will be able to access up to N20 million loan without providing tangible security/collateral to purchase assets, finance business expansion and other capital expenditure needs.

The maximum tenor for the credit facility is two years, Business Post gathered.

Before now, customers were required to provide full collateral cover to access loans from the bank’s business banking segment but SBL provides the necessary flexibility to its clients.

“As a bank, our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity in the locations we operate in. This is done through offering cash, lending, trade and wealth management solutions that specifically drive economic growth,” the Head of Consumer, Private and Business Banking (CPBB), at Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Mr David Idoru, stated.

“Within our CPBB, the promotion of commerce is largely done through our business banking segment by banking SMEs.

“We are constantly looking for ways to ensure our clients get access to the needed support to enable their businesses to thrive and SBL provides the necessary flexibility for business growth,” Mr Idoru added.

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Banking

DLM Capital Praises Employees for Global Finance Award

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DLM Capital

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Employees of DLM Capital Group, a leading developmental investment bank in Nigeria, have been applauded for the award received by the company recently.

DLM Capital was named the Best Development Finance Company Nigeria 2021 by the Global Banking and Finance Review magazine.

The honour was in recognition of the institution’s dedication to providing leadership and excellence in Nigeria’s development finance space.

While commenting on the award, the Head of Investment Banking at DLM Capital, Mr Emeka Ngene, said the honour was made possible as a result of the continuous collaboration of the DLM community.

“It is indeed an honour to receive this recognition from such a prestigious body as Global Banking and Finance Awards.

“We are pleased to be associated with this award which speaks to our dedication and hard work in addition to the expertise and innovative solutions we have implemented over the years.

“This further demonstrates our commitment to designing and implementing developmental funding solutions for the development of the country.

“We are therefore dedicating this award to our team for their continuous support in ensuring that DLM Capital thrives in its pursuit to push the frontiers of developmental capital market solutions in the Nigerian financial ecosystem.

“We are delighted once again to have been identified for our accomplishments among other players across the continent,” he stated.

Since 2011, the Global Banking & Finance Awards has honoured companies that stand out in their various areas of expertise in the banking and finance industry, thereby recognizing the accomplishments and significant revolutions that emerge every year within the global finance community.

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Banking

Ecobank Offers Back-to-School Loan Packages to Parents

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Ecobank Nigeria

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The desire to ease the financial burdens of parents and guardians as regards the payment of school fees of their children and wards for the 2021/2022 school year has made Ecobank Nigeria come up with affordable loan packages.

The Head of Consumer Banking at Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Korede Demola-Adeniyi, explained that the introduction of the credit facility is in line with the lender’s overall strategy to support the development of the nation’s education sector.

A statement from the financial institution disclosed that the loan packages were designed under its back-to-school initiatives and are also available to school owners through special infrastructure loans.

“As a bank that has the interest of its customers at heart especially at this period when schools resume, we understand the importance of education. Children deserve to go to school and we are making it easy for parents to provide them with this basic right,” she said.

Speaking specifically on the loans available for the educational institutions, she noted that they could be accessed without bottlenecks as the bank has taken into cognisance the harsh effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mrs Demola-Adeniyi urged schools to appoint the bank as their preferred financial institution for payments and collections, noting that Ecobank has demonstrated pedigree and expertise in fees collection, locally and internationally.

She further encouraged schools and individuals that are yet to open Ecobank accounts to do so in order to access the offers available.

The banker also said Ecobank’s digital offerings are targeted at reducing the financial burden on parents, students and schools, and also facilitating the ease of payment of fees without hassles.

She listed the digital offerings to include Ecobank Mobile App, EcobankPay and Ecobank Online for contactless fees payment; personal loans and salary advance packages at competitive interest rates, international transfers for offshore school fees payment and affordable remittance offerings.

Mrs Demola-Adeniyi also noted that families abroad who wish to send money home to help with fees can do so at zero charges on the Rapidtransfer app.

The bank has also provided the banking-for-school pack for educational institutions to access working capital and loans. The features of this pack include easy fee collections, zero charges on collection accounts with EcobankPay, secure online banking with Omni Lite and cards for easy payments.

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