Top 6 Digital Banks Disrupting Nigeria’s Financial Landscape
By Adedapo Adesanya
Before now, the only way to carry out a financial transaction was to visit the banking hall, stay in the queue and pray that the cashier is in a good mood.
But technology has changed the game. Someone does not have to leave his/her space to execute a financial transaction and in fact, some digital banks have sprung up in Nigeria in the last five years, offering not to only complement the traditional, brick and mortar banking structure but to disrupt its entire structure with its offerings.
Business Post takes a look at some digital banks and their performances towards challenging the status quo in an evolving financial landscape. The banks have been shortlisted to six based on metrics such as popularity, offerings, and growth in the last two years.
Regarded as the bank of the free, Kuda is modelled based on free offerings that regular traditional banks charge customers for. They offer free ATM cards and free transfers. For instance, Kuda does not charge card maintenance fees. It also offers customers up to 25 free transfers to other banks every month.
Kuda, according to the latest data, has processed at least $2.2 billion in transactions and has raised a total of $36.6 million in two years as it continues to position itself as Africa’s digital bank. Its customer base has also grown to over 600,000 customers.
Kuda came into the market in 2019 with a $1.6 million pre-seeding round and in November 2020, it raised a $10 million led by Target Global, Entrée Capital, SBI Investment among others and in March, it raised $25 million in a Series A round led by Valar Ventures and included Target Global.
The company has a microfinance banking license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and at the moment, its flagship product is a digital-only savings account but with a primary plan of expansion, Kuda is set to drive the digital banking sector in Nigeria.
V by VFD Microfinance Bank (Vbank) is a fully digital bank that offers a wide range of financial products and services to professionals and entrepreneurs across all sectors.
The digital bank offers zero charges on transactions. Free account maintenance, monthly interest on savings, swift and secure transfers, withdrawals, and bill payments.
V is the digital banking app for VFD Microfinance Bank, a six-year-old financial institution.
In April 2021, the bank noted that it has more than 250,000 individuals and businesses on its mobile banking platform across Nigeria, and processed transactions worth billions. It, however, didn’t stipulate any figure to back up the assertion.
According to the Managing Director of the bank, Mr Azubike Emodi, “Launched March 25, 2021, the digital bank has onboarded more than 250,000 individuals and businesses on its mobile banking platform across Nigeria and processed transactions worth billions.
“The all-digital platform is most accessed in cities including Lagos, Anambra, Port-Harcourt, Abuja and Asaba.”
With a new app, Vbank’s Version 3.0 has features including card-less withdrawals, multiple funds transfers, recurring transactions, proximity payments, advance budgeting and intelligent airtime top-up.
Vbank offers between 8 per cent and 14 per cent interest on its savings.
Rubies is a digital bank that disrupts regular banking by providing 10 per cent digital top-notch services and technology at its peak. Its offerings include free debit cards which come with an option of free delivery; independent banking which enables users to refer people and earn every time they transact on Rubies.
It also gives users a customizable account, meaning they can decide what their account number will look like and they can transfer money easily to friends on Rubies around with a single tap.
Rubies claims that it offers a 21st-century banking experience and asides from the easy and convenient account opening process, the platform is packed with features like virtual dollar card, Rubies Rule Book (to manage recurring payments), savings and investments, money requests, and more.
It offers the lowest interest rate among its competitors with a 2 to 5 per cent interest on its savings and has a low N10 interbank transfer rate, one of the lowest in Nigeria.
ALAT is a self-acclaimed Nigeria’s first fully digital bank that is run by Wema Bank. It was the first among the first financial institutions to introduce mobile banking in Nigeria in 2011 and took it several notches higher in 2017 with the launch of ALAT.
With the service, users can take an instant loan, save with friends, create and make payments with virtual cards, and so on.
Interest rates on savings with ALAT can go as high as 10 per cent annually, which is higher than normal bank rates.
It is the only digital bank with an insurance offering and customers can get up to N200,000 in loans.
ALAT has contributed immensely to Wema Bank’s numbers with the company latest financial statement showing a year-on-year double-digit growth of 39.4 per cent in customer deposit of N804.9 billion in 2020 compared with the N577.3 billion recorded the previous year.
According to The Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Mr Tunde Mabawonku, “We have a clear strategy of becoming the Most Dominant Digital Bank in Nigeria by 2023. We have positioned ALAT as the go-to platform by both increasing customer acquisition and working with eco-system partners on payments and settlements.”
Eyowo is a very innovative digital bank with lots of amazing features. Something that stands out with Eyowo is its account opening process. The process is made very easy and stress-free and with just a phone number, users can create an account and send money. Another is the zero interest rate loans.
Eyowo, like some other digital banks in Nigeria, also lets you create virtual cards. Primarily established to bridge the financial inclusion gap, Eyowo, the service has proven to help Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)
It offers interests in savings ranging from 5 per cent to 13 per cent with an interbank transfer between N10.50 to N52.50.
Eyowo as part of its efforts to deepen financial inclusion has an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code: *4255#.
Sparkle is a digital bank. It is a digital ecosystem providing financial, lifestyle, and business support services to Nigerians around the world. Licensed by the CBN, Sparkle is all about helping people achieve what they want, whether it’s entertainment, education, saving, or investing in the future.
Launched by former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the defunct Diamond Bank, Mr Uzoma Dozie, the startup claims to have more than 20,000 customers and processed $16 million in transactions.
Sparkle has its sights set on SMEs in Nigeria, by offering a suite of digital payments and business management services. It also plans to move into the digital distribution of general insurance products.
Initially, Sparkle was launched for users to be able to split payment, make utilities and bill payments and also save their money, but with its banking license, it also plans to start offering consumer and small business loans in 2021.
Recently, the bank announced Sparkle for Business to help entrepreneurs access the much-needed products and services to grow their enterprises digitally.
It will have four main components, according to the company; inventory and invoice management; payment gateway service; tax advisory; payroll and employee management.