UBA’s Leo and digital banking for financial inclusion in Nigeria

The ease of conducting financial transactions is the biggest motivator for any digital innovation- drastic reduction in cash transactions and avoidance very long queue at the over-the-counter and Automated Teller Machine points.

The case for digital banking is even clearer now, as an outdoor market in the neighbourhood can be patronised easily with just a punch of few numbers from the phone, saving the seller considerable time in counting currency, reconciling the amount of money on hand with the day’s sales, while the buyer leaves the scene quickly.
Although the electronic payment system was assessed to have struggled last year, particularly by the impact of recession and inflation, which eroded purchasing power, it never whittled down the attraction, but challenged the operators on innovations.

To show the power of digital banking, the report of the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) major electronic payment channels showed that total value of transactions notched up 35 per cent to N69.7 trillion in 2017, from N51.6 trillion recorded in 2016.

These channels include the Mobile (Interscheme) transactions; NIBSS Instant Payment (NIP); Point of Sale (PoS); NIBSS Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT).

But United Bank for Africa (UBA), a Pan-African financial institution, recently expanded its approach to revolutionized banking channel with the introduction of Leo.

This was also part of efforts aimed at getting closer to its customers, satisfying them promptly and wooing the unbanked populace, as well as others outside its network. It is a new strategy that comes like human interface.

The new app is the face of UBA Chat Banker that enables customers make use of their social media accounts to carry out key banking transactions.

To enable customers key into the app quickly, at the official launch of Leo, customers were given a step by step demonstration on the novel way of delivering lifestyle and quality banking through the Facebook Messenger chat platform.

Leo also came with assurance to address any type of banking concerns raised by customers through the Facebook Messenger chat platform.

The solution has already emerged the first that a financial institution in Africa has come up with app to simplify the way customers transact- something that has become necessary in today’s fast-paced world with demands for quick-time transactions and response.

Specifically, with the launch of the chat banking, customers will be able to open new accounts, receive instant transaction notifications, check their balances on the go, transfer funds and airtime top up. They will also be able to confirm cheques, pay bills, apply for loans, freeze accounts, request for mini statements, among other things.

The Group Managing Director, UBA, Kennedy Uzoka, said that the launch of Leo is part of initiatives aimed at putting the bank’s customers first, with UBA continuously developing strategies aimed at enthroning seamless transactions for the bank’s numerous users, while ensuring utmost safety of their transactions.

“The formulation of this product is consistent with the bank’s ‘customer first’ philosophy, where we are doing things not the way we like, but focusing on what the customers want, where they want it, and in the exact platform they want it.

“At UBA, we have been working with technology giants that have the global capacity to ensure not only seamless but also effortless banking for millions of our customers across Africa.

“We have aligned Leo App with the normal banking limit for customers who are enrolling for the first time, Leo takes them automatically through low Know Your Customer (KYC) programme, which will enable them to do up to N50,000 transactions.

“We have been working with technology giants that have the global capacity to ensure not only seamless transactions, but also effortless banking for millions of our customers across Africa.

“We have collaborated with Facebook to come up with this innovation that is capable of revolutionising the way banking is done in Africa,” he said.

The banker noted that Leo will in the nearest future, show up on other social platforms, adding that all it takes to enjoy the services is simply to have a Facebook account.

“Leo being an intelligent personality, will give you feedback instantaneously as you transact your business on the platform. A solution that is from the customer’s standpoint and is easy to use by anyone,” he said.

He stressed that the UBA Chat Banking with Leo was not just the typical products that people see, saying it comes with the product that anybody will understand to ease transactions and help to keep up the lifestyle of individuals, adding that it is designed from the customer’s standpoint.

Also speaking at the launch of Leo, the Group Head of Online Banking at UBA, Austine Abolusoro, who also conducted a step by step demonstration on the working of Leo, reitirated that Leo is not just a chat machine, but an artificial intelligence personality meant to address any type of banking concerns raised by customers.

“Leo is ready and waiting to help with most transactions and to deliver any form of banking services. Leo is operating a lifestyle banking platform on Facebook messenger to assist with your transactions, while chatting with your friends and business partners.

“The security with this platform is that for every transaction, an OTP (One Time Password) is generated to the phone number that is registered on your account,” he said.