By Chijioke Nelson and Lucky Orioha
The banking sector across Africa has witnessed significant transformation in the last few years with increased thrust on innovative customer offerings. In fact, electronic payments system with its myriad of product offerings has played the central role.
For example, in 2015, there were 162.6 million transactions across all payment channels worth N48.9 trillion processed, which contrasts 113.4 million transactions across all payment channels in 2014, worth N43.9 trillion.
Of course, the huge records were facilitated by various channels in electronic banking- Internet, mobile phone, Automated Teller Machine, Point of Sale, among others. Specifically, the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) said that out of more than 100,000 PoS terminals registered in the country, about 62,000 are active and as at December 2015, the value of transactions on PoS has exceeded N53 billion in 3.95 billion deals.
Indeed, the electronic offerings hold more promises for payment system's development. It even emerged as a veritable tool in the drive towards financial inclusion, even with a new report that showed that exclusion rate has fallen significantly.
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, with a clear understanding of the market and environment, it is well positioned to create more value to its growing stakeholders through the electronic banking channels.
For the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ladi Balogun, effective use of technology, innovations and top-most service delivery represents the future of banking and this is the way to go in order to attain the highest levels of customer advocacy and the bank has continued to embrace these as priorities to keep pace with evolving consumer demands and market trends.
A statement from the bank said: "That the Bank has been leading the pack as the largest retail lender in the country, granting over 278,000 loans a year - among other giant strides recorded, speaks volumes about its success story so far. This is coming barely five years after it successfully transformed to a retail and commercial banking institution.
"The innovative products and service offerings of the lender have been well accepted by the market. This is complimented by a team of highly professional and friendly staff, who are always willing to go the extra mile to meet the needs of existing and potential customers. Added to these are the strategic location of the bank's business outlets (branches and alternate channels) nationwide; providing prompt and convenient banking solutions, as well as promoting financial inclusion in line with its values as a simple, reliable and helpful entity. With FCMB, anybody can carryout a banking transaction from anywhere and at any time."
Just January 18 this year, the bank upgraded its Information Technology infrastructure to Finacle 10 Core Banking solution. The advanced service-oriented architecture is already optimising the processes, enhance system capability, performance, scalability and security, among others.
Of course, with the information technology platform upgrade, FCMB's electronic banking and cards are due to benefit immensely. Already acknowledged as one of the major providers of best alternate channels in banking services, which cut across ATMs, mobile banking, Internet banking, FlashmeCash, Cards and Point of Sales (PoS), it is now among the top three banks in PoS collections with more than 10 per cent market share.
Also, the FCMBOnline, the retail Internet banking platform of the bank, gives customers the opportunity to manage their finances anytime and from anywhere with the aid of any Internet-enabled device, which among other features, can be used to set-up standing instructions for periodic payments, check and download account statements in PDF, MS Word or Excel, request for ATM debit card/Cheque book/bank drafts, mobile banking, view credit card account and block ATM debit cards.
The key benefits of using the FCMBOnline are instant funds Transfer within FCMB accounts and other Bank accounts, instant airtime top-up, pay bills like DSTV, GOTV, PHCN, BB, IPNX, SWIFT subscriptions, and Wakanow airfare. The platform can also be used to transfer to money to a FlashMeCash account, including foreign exchange transfers.
However, the FCMBOnline Business version is designed for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and other corporate organisations, offering real-time solution that allows such businesses a 24/7 access to their FCMB accounts.
Apart from providing a platform to carry out Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) transactions, it also has the features of single payment capabilities, bulk payment capability, multiple upload functions and multi user capability (that is, more than one user can login at the same time with multiple layers of authorisers).
There is FCMBMobile, which is a value proposition that comes with a mobile app, allowing customers to carry out banking transactions with the use of their mobile phones or other mobile devices anywhere and at anytime, including the balance and fund transfer across banks, purchase of airtime, bills payment among others.
The bank has a suite of card products designed to meet the lifestyles of users. This array of branded electronic payment cards are used to make payments for goods/service on Point of Sales (POS) terminals or merchant's websites as well as cash withdrawals from ATMs. It issues both naira debit cards (MasterCard, Visa and Verve); and foreign currency cards (Visa that can be issued only on United States dollar and Great Britain pounds domiciliary - savings or current - accounts).
The Visa and Mastercard, with the Personal Identification Number (PIN) of the customer, are issued instantly upon account opening at any of the bank's branches. This makes FCMB one of the few banks that deliver on-the-spot cards issuance.
The lender has also broadened its retail business with its Quick Recharge product. This allows all customers of FCMB to directly recharge or top-up their mobile phones on any of the GSM networks using a dedicated code- *322*214*amount# and within seconds the customer's phone is credited with the value of airtime purchased.
Committed to the growth of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and the success of the cash-less policy initiative, it developed a Mobile Point of Sale (MPoS) terminal, christened FCMB PayPad. This is a portable device that allows merchants securely process payments in a seamless manner, driven by a robust mobile application on a smart phone or tablet.
These positive developments have not gone unnoticed as the financial institution was last year rated as the fourth most customer-focused bank in Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) with a score of 74.94 per cent and fifth in retail banking with 73.16 per cent.
Still in 2015, it emerged the "Most Customer Friendly Bank" in the country at the BusinessDay Bankers Awards on the grounds of effectiveness in resolving customers' complaints, relative to others in 2014 financial year, as well as being reckoned in 2014 among the top 100 most respectable brands in Nigeria in the area of Banking/Customer Service.
The bank's chief, Balogun, said that the feats achieved so far are inspired by the lender's quest to ensure that all segments of the population, especially the unbanked and the under-banked, embrace mainstream banking services.
"We are conscious of the needs of our target market and the evolving dynamics of the society with an increasing technology savvy population. Our e-banking and cards business remain a key focus area.
"We will continue to leverage on these to bring greater convenience and consistency of experience to our customers. That is why we have expanded our e-banking platforms to further raise the bar in products and service delivery using the opportunity provided by digital channels in banking. We want to make banking transactions more exciting and rewarding."