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First Bank Begins Secure Banking Services on WhatsApp

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By Dipo Olowookere

In a bid to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria, Clickatell has made it possible for First Bank to launch Chat Banking on WhatsApp.

With this development, the lender will unlock the opportunity for millions of new consumers to experience an improved way to initiate day-to-day secure banking activities and digital product purchases from within the chat application.

It will also enable First Bank customers to manage their banking needs within their WhatsApp chat with the same efficiency as USSD.

Customers can add First Bank’s published WhatsApp phone number or a direct link access the First Bank’s “Verified” profile to begin a secure Chat Banking session.

Clickatell Transact’s bank grade platform allows for banks around the world to develop and seamlessly deliver their unique customer experiences consistently across multiple channels.

The platform’s solutions allow banks to self-manage and instantly deploy changes to their offerings without the need for intensive professional services lowering turnaround times from weeks to minutes, reducing launch friction, development cycles and associated overheads. This launch with First Bank of Nigeria marks the third large scale deployment by Clickatell in the African market in the past month.

Clickatell has pioneered the Chat Banking innovation through WhatsApp with a high emphasis on security to make WhatsApp a risk-free and convenient business engagement channel for customers. Multiple layers of encryption and authentication ensure a safe, and hassle-free transactional experience.

First Bank of Nigeria will offer its’ customers a full suite of banking options that can be initiated through WhatsApp, including balance checks, transfers, payments in addition to a vast bouquet of digital products and services that can be purchased instantly. WhatsApp unlocks an opportunity for brands to offer their customers a more personal, intuitive and efficient way to engage with them on chat.

“Customers’ expectations are constantly changing and it’s our duty as a customer focused bank to ensure that our customers are provided with the means to initiate or carry out banking services through any channel they desire,” said Mr Chuma Ezirim, Group Head, E-Business, First Bank of Nigeria Limited. “We are constantly seeking new ways and opportunities to meet customers at their preferred touch points and we understand our customers are actively engaged on WhatsApp.”

Clickatell’s Transact Division is committed to providing solutions to social and economic problems, through FinTech innovation. Clickatell’s goal is to provide consumers with efficiency, a pinnacle of customer experience and better value. In countries like Nigeria, where cash is currently the preferred method of transacting, Clickatell’s solutions resolves critical issues around ease of access, safety, security and consistent availability of essential products and services.

“We are very excited to be working with the team from First Bank of Nigeria who, in record time, implemented a complex user experience, soft launched and managed to improve on the already exceptional services that First Bank offers its customers. As a technology provider, Clickatell drives to delight both clients and their end-users through low code deployments and innovative upgrades. This rapid time to market and iteration capability of our offerings helps acquire new customers for our clients” – Jeppe Dorff, Managing Director of Clickatell’s Transact Division.

By providing consumers with what they want, when they want it and integrating solutions where they engage and transact, Clickatell innovation like Chat Banking on WhatsApp paves the way forward for consumers to gain confidence and trust in digital transactions. Millions of consumers are getting onboarded with each new launch of Clickatell powered chat banking across the world, especially in Africa. Clickatell is diligently pursuing its goal of reaching all of Nigeria’s banked consumers. With its’ success in Nigeria, Clickatell has taken a definitive step in the right direction for greater financial inclusion, both in Africa and around the globe.

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

Polaris Bank in Safe Hands, No Need to Panic—Management

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Polaris Bank Rewards Customers

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The management of Polaris Bank Limited has urged its customers and members of the public not to panic over reports that the financial institution has been sold to a new investor, Mr Auwal Gombe, in the sum of N40 billion.

It was recently reported that efforts are being made to hand over the lender to the businessman, who is said to be an ally of former military president, Mr Ibrahim Babangida, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationalised the defunct Skye Bank Plc into Polaris Bank in 2018.

In a statement issued on Friday in Lagos, the bank described the report of the purported sale as not only “speculative” but done to deliberately “create panic” among its customers and the banking community.

The company said the CBN established it and injected funds for its operations, it has bounced back to profitability, with a solid balance sheet, saying there is no cause for alarm as the bank was in safe hands.

“Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018.

“The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability,” a part of the notice today said.

Continuing, Polaris Bank noted that, “Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders,” expressing its commitment to “ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.”

 “The board and management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders,” the statement concluded.

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Banking

Wema Bank Refutes Dud Cheque, Forgery Allegations

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The management of Wema Bank Plc has rubbished an allegation that it issued a dud cheque in connection with a garnishee proceeding for the payment of a judgement debt on behalf of the Bayelsa State Government.

A legal practitioner, Mr George Haliday, had accused the financial institution of issuing dud cheques but in a statement issued on Wednesday, the lender explained that the cheques have only not been cleared for payment because of the subsisting appeal at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on the garnishee proceeding which has now been decided in its favour.

According to the statement, the lawyer only ran to the Magistrate Court in Abuja to lodge a complaint about the issuance of dud cheques after he lost his case at the appellate court.

“It is very worthy of note that the judgement debt against Bayelsa State Government, which Barrister George Haliday attempted to enforce by a garnishee proceeding, thereby leading to the issuance of the cheques in question had been settled by Bayelsa State Government via a Terms of Settlement between Barrister George Haliday and the Bayelsa State Government at the Supreme Court,” a part of the statement.

Recently, there were reports that the Managing Director/CEO of Wema Bank, Mr Ademola Adebise, was issued an arrest warrant, but the bank dismissed this, saying its leader was not given a fair hearing in the matter.

“Wema Bank wishes to state that the warrant for the arrest of Mr Ademola Adebise is in violation of his fundamental rights to fair hearing as he was never personally served with any process to appear before the magistrate court nor was he represented in court.

“We are a law-abiding corporate citizen; if there was any court summons properly served on the Managing Director for his appearance in court, he would have done so without fail.

“But in this case, there was no such service extended to him or any court processes personally served on him to appear in court until a warrant of arrest was issued in absentia. We view the arrest warrant as being an infringement on his fundamental rights,” the statement said.

Concluding, the lender emphatically refuted and dismissed “in their entirety, the allegations of dud cheque and forgery levelled against our bank and the Managing Director. We also dismiss the inappropriate issuance of a bench warrant on our Managing Director.

“We are already engaging in legitimate actions to seek redress and bring all the perpetrators of these unprofessional conducts and heinous criminal acts against our Managing Director and the bank to book.”

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Banking

Advans Nigeria Becomes Most Innovative Microfinance Bank

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

More big feathers have been added to the colourful cap of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, cementing its leadership position in the small lending business in Nigeria.

Recently, in recognition of its customer-centric credentials and innovation in product development, service delivery and brand management, the financial institution was named the Best Microfinance Bank in Nigeria at the Financial Derivatives Awards 2022.

Also, the company emerged as the Most Innovative Microfinance Bank in Nigeria in the Global Brands Magazine and World Economic Magazine Awards 2022.

The Managing Director/CEO of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Gaetan Debuchy, while reacting to the accolades bestowed on the firm, dedicated the awards to the working management and staff of the bank, promising that the bank would continue to break boundaries.

“We are excited to win these awards. It further validates our innovative approach to providing customer-centric, affordable and transparent financial services,” Mr Debuchy said.

Also, the Head of Marketing and Communication at Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Kayode Abraham, stated that, “Over the years, we have centred our business on customer needs and feedback, which has helped us develop financial solutions from scratch to completion. We are pleased to be recognised as the most innovative and best microfinance bank in Nigeria.”

Earlier in the year, Advans Nigeria upgraded its mobile banking app ‘Adspire’ to include users’ ability to request bank statements and control their daily transaction limit. Through the app, clients can receive notifications and share by referring their friends and loved ones.

The bank recently introduced a micro-health insurance product and an education loan to facilitate financial inclusion.

The health insurance product was designed to ensure existing and prospective clients have access to high-quality and affordable health care services, while the education loan was designed to provide working and investment capital for school owners and to assist parents in paying their children’s school fees with ease.

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