- Powering Banking With Technology
Technology is redefining and simplifying banking. It has also brought banking to the doorsteps of almost every household. For instance, the opening and operating of accounts can now be done without visiting a bank or physically interacting with human beings and from the comfort of one’s office, bedroom or even while in transit. Technology has practically revolutionised banking and every individual now has the capacity to have their banks with them everywhere and in their pockets.
The Head, Information Technology, Wema Bank Plc, Adewale Saka, disclosed that banks are now empowered to reach customers and potential customers even in areas where they do not have physical presence. He explained that the ease of creating banking products and services as well as making them available to customers is quite amazing, and this is made possible through technology.
“Bank customers now have access to almost all banking services 24/7, including access to cash at odd hours through the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), airtime recharge, bills payments, funds transfer, service subscriptions, online and offline shopping, lifestyle management and a host of others. Banks in Nigeria have leveraged technology to reposition banking in the minds of their customers.
“All these have been achieved through technology-powered delivery channels such as mobile banking apps, online banking platforms, robust payment and collection platforms, among others. In my own view, most banks have become technology service providers,”he said.
He believes that banks have effectively harnessed technology to improve banking services even though there is still room for improvement. ”Everything in banking today is powered by technology to the extent that when there is a technology failure in any bank, it can cripple the entire operations of such bank with attendant financial losses and negative brand perception. Banks in Nigeria have over the last few years embarked on automation of backend processes to drive efficiency, improve productivity, innovate effortlessly and optimise risks,” he added.
Saka said that Wema Bank is the bank to beat when it comes to innovation using technology. “As it stands today, Wema has made a bold statement with ALAT being the first truly digital bank in the country. What is also unique about this is the fact that our digital bank and all other digital channels provided for customers’ comfort are fully owned by Wema,” he said.
He explained that WemaMobile platform can be switched to SMS banking if you run out of data right from within the app. This is an amazing experience that is unique to Wema. “Card Control integration to all our service points (ALAT, USSD Banking, WemaMobile, WemaOnline, among others) and giving customers of the bank absolute control over when, where and how their debit and credit cards are used without recourse to the bank is the first of its kind in the Nigerian banking industry. We have also consistently provided very stable and reliable banking services through our digital channels,” he said.
Speaking further, he said banks have also developed and deployed innovative products and services for customer acquisition, risk management, transaction processing and ultimately improve the bottom-line. Cash-lite policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been hinged on technology and so also is the Bank Verification Number (BVN) project.
“Unlike before, customers can get instant value for both intra-bank and inter-bank transfers without having to fill forms, join a long queue or visit a bank branch. Customers are now able to have value on cheques deposited in their accounts within 24 hours and in some cases, customers do not need to visit a branch to present their cheques for clearing, since all banks started participating in the automated clearing house using Cheque Truncation Systems,” Saka disclosed.
Significant successes have also been recorded around taking banking to the unbanked through the use of technology in driving Agency Banking processes. More and more in-branch banking services are getting digitised and made available to customers across multiple alternative channels to make customers less dependent on bank workers but rather serve themselves.
“However, improvement is still required around data analytics for determining specific needs of customers and various segments of the markets to develop products and services to meet those needs. Another area requiring more attention is eliminating the need for customers to come to the bank at all. Wema Bank is leading the rest of the industry in this area through the creation of our Digital Bank, ALAT. This is the next level of effective use of technology in Banking,” he said.
He admitted that technology has undoubtedly brought positive transformation to the Nigerian banking industry but surely it hasn’t been without a couple of challenges. In the days of pure traditional manual or semi-manual banking, operational downtime was minimal and most times limited to the specific business unit or branch while a downtime on a centralised Core Banking Application or infrastructure can bring the entire operations of a bank to a halt.
“Banking industry has been experiencing new types of risks associated with the use of technology for banking services. These risks could be due to human error, systems failure, fraud and cybercrimes. Banks in Nigeria have lost a lot of money to various fraudulent practices perpetrated through electronic channels. Fraud attempts, successful frauds, hacks and scams have steadily increased as banking takes centre-stage in the digital world,” he stated.
He warned that outsourcing or cloud computing or sharing a public infrastructure is less secured than on-premise deployment of infrastructure. “All that is required for an organisation is to go through a stringent process in selecting a cloud service provider and ensure a water-tight agreement is put in place to protect their businesses. The type of service to be hosted on a public cloud should be determined by the cloud strategy of various institutions and all conditions required to effectively protect information asset on-premise should be considered when outsourcing or migrating to the cloud,” he said.
Saka described technology as a great enabler, making banking more accessible and reducing costs for consumers. I don’t think bank branches are going away because people still need human contact.
“However, it is expected that banks will shift competition to the digital space and de-emphasise competing based on number or size of branches. Rate of branch expansion will go down paving way for channels and digital penetration. A lot more of digitally-powered unmanned service centres where customers can drive in and perform banking services (including seeking financial advice or solutions) on a self-service basis will take centre-stage. This has started already but it’s going to continue and increase in the coming years,” he said.
Continuing, he said: “More and more banking processes will get digitised and a lot more services currently handled within banking halls or head offices of banks will become available via digital platforms. Banks like ours (Wema) have invested in the bank of the future, ALAT and I believe that banks that fail to invest and take advantage of new technologies to reengineer their products and services may be losing customers to the better-quality or lower-cost products of smarter ones,” he stated.
Behind Closed Doors: Microsoft’s Bid to Make Bing Apple’s Default Search Engine
Insiders have disclosed that Microsoft Corp. engaged in discussions with Apple Inc. around 2020 about potentially selling its Bing search engine.
The proposed deal aimed to replace Google as the default search engine on Apple devices, particularly iPhones.
People familiar with the matter, who chose to remain anonymous, disclosed that high-level executives from Microsoft held exploratory talks with Eddy Cue, Apple’s services chief, responsible for the existing search engine partnership with Google.
Despite these discussions, the deal never progressed beyond preliminary stages. This revelation has gained renewed attention in light of the ongoing U.S. Department of Justice antitrust trial against Google, in which Apple and Microsoft are actively involved. The Justice Department is using Apple’s arrangement with Google as evidence of Google’s search market dominance.
Apple’s Eddy Cue defended the collaboration during his trial testimony, asserting that Google was the superior search option, emphasizing the quality of Google’s technology.
Apple’s partnership with Google, initiated in 2002, had grown to become highly lucrative, earning Apple between $4 billion to $7 billion annually by 2020.
This financial aspect, coupled with concerns about Bing’s competitiveness, played pivotal roles in Apple’s ultimate decision not to acquire Bing.
While Bing was briefly used as the default search engine in some Apple features between 2013 and 2017, including Siri and Spotlight, Google ultimately remained the preferred choice. In court, it was revealed that Microsoft had considered a multi-billion-dollar investment in its relationship with Apple in 2016, but this attempt was unsuccessful.
Eddy Cue’s testimony underscored Apple’s belief that Google’s search technology was unmatched, signaling that Apple had no plans to develop its own search tool.
This differs from Apple’s approach in other areas, where it competes directly with Google in mapping software, voice assistants, and operating systems.
In retrospect, Apple’s dalliance with Bing serves as a fascinating chapter in the tech giants’ intricate web of partnerships and rivalries.
iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max Owners Complain of Overheating Issues
Some of the first owners of Apple Inc.’s latest offerings, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, are feeling the heat – literally.
Reports are pouring in from frustrated customers who claim that their new devices are prone to overheating during usage and charging, casting a shadow over Apple’s flagship product.
Complaints have flooded Apple forums and social media platforms, with users expressing concern over the device becoming uncomfortably warm while gaming, making phone calls, or using FaceTime.
The issue appears to be exacerbated when the phone is plugged in for charging.
Apple’s technical support staff have been inundated with calls on the matter and have been directing customers to an older support article on managing hot or cold iPhones.
This notice suggests that overheating may occur during intensive app use, charging, or initial device setup.
Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, California, has remained tight-lipped regarding these complaints, leaving users speculating about the root cause of the issue.
As the iPhone accounts for a substantial portion of Apple’s revenue, any product flaws are scrutinized intensely. While some problems can be resolved through software updates, others may fade with time. Apple usually subjects its products to rigorous testing to catch potential pitfalls before mass production.
The overheating issue could be related to the iPhone setup process, which can be processor-intensive, particularly when re-downloading apps and data from iCloud.
Users have also suggested that certain background apps, such as Instagram or Uber, might exacerbate the problem.
Videos of users measuring the phone’s temperature with thermometers have surfaced online, with one user reporting, “iPhone 15 Pro Max gets really hot easily.”
However, it’s not a universal problem, as some users have reported no issues or found that using a protective case mitigated the heat.
This development follows recent complaints about the FineWoven material used in iPhone 15 cases, highlighting potential quality concerns with Apple’s latest product offerings.
TikTok Faces Regulatory Storm in Indonesia as Minister Calls for E-commerce Split
Teten Masduki, the Indonesian Minister of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises, has emerged as a vocal critic of the Chinese-owned social media giant TikTok.
Masduki’s relentless complaints about TikTok’s dominance in the Indonesian e-commerce market have set the stage for a seismic regulatory shift that could have far-reaching consequences.
Masduki, a former activist who once took on government corruption, has been disrupting official meetings to raise concerns about TikTok’s impact on local players. This groundswell of criticism has culminated in sweeping regulations that force TikTok to split payments from shopping in Indonesia, a move seen as a significant blow to TikTok’s e-commerce aspirations.
Under these new rules, social media companies in Indonesia are barred from handling direct payments for online purchases, effectively requiring TikTok to either create a separate app for payments or risk being shuttered in Indonesia entirely.
The regulations, stricter than anticipated, have already had a chilling effect on the e-commerce market, benefiting local champions like GoTo and Sea.
While TikTok has pushed back, arguing that the separation of social media and e-commerce hampers innovation, the Indonesian government remains firm in its stance, aiming to protect smaller enterprises and voters as elections loom on the horizon.
This clash underscores the challenges TikTok faces in its pursuit of e-commerce dominance and sets a precedent for other countries in the region. As TikTok’s meteoric rise in regional e-commerce continues, governments are increasingly assessing whether the platform benefits or harms domestic merchants.
For TikTok, the challenge lies in finding a solution that appeases authorities while allowing it to continue its growth. The repercussions of this battle in Indonesia could reverberate throughout Southeast Asia and beyond, shaping the future of social media-driven e-commerce.
In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, Teten Masduki’s bold stance against TikTok may just be the opening salvo in a much larger struggle for control of the e-commerce arena.
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