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Raising the Bar in Digital Banking

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  • Raising the Bar in Digital Banking

As part of efforts to improve its digital banking operation, FirstBank Nigeria Limited recently launched the What Chat Banking platform, writes Ugo Aliogo

“We have optimised our digital banking offerings to ensure ease of banking and convenience; our FirstMobile app, Firstonline, FirstMonie and USSD banking are some of the channels we have put in place to make this happen.

“FirstBank Chat Banking on Whatsapp is our latest addition. We have gone Live with this product and I am pleased to formally introduce this product to our media partners today.”

When the Chief Executive Officer, First Bank Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, gave the above statement, he was not trying to chronicle an episode in movie, but to tell the success story of his financial institutions in the country in the digital banking space.

The excerpt was part of his presentation during the WhatsApp Chat Banking Launch in Lagos recently.

The WhatsApp chat banking platform is a recent innovation introduced by the bank to drive excellent financial services to their esteemed customers.

Adeduntan, explained that the FirstBank chat banking on whatsApp is another significant milestone in the bank’s mission to provide convenient and fast payment solutions to their customers.

He said: “FirstBank Chat Banking on WhatsApp is another significant milestone in our mission to provide convenient and fast payment solutions to our customers.

“It is one of the ways FirstBank puts You First and enables you stay connected with your contacts, loved ones, friends and finances all on the GO whilst you chat with them because at FirstBank we are driven to bolster relationships on all fronts anywhere and anytime.”

The FirstBank boss further noted that the WhatsApp platform is one of the ways the bank is putting the customer first.

He also said the platform enables the customer to stay connected with your contacts, loved ones, friends and finances all on the go, adding that whilst the customer chats with their contacts, “because at FirstBank we are driven to bolster relationships on all fronts anywhere and anytime.”

Adeduntan added that it was a new channel for customers to access their services; a convenient way to make payment and an easy-to-use banking application.

He expressed confidence that banking with FirstBank on WhatsApp is secure, accessible and convenient, noting that customers can carry out basic banking transactions such as inter and intra bank funds transfer, pay bills, buy airtime, buy data and check your account balance on your WhatsApp platform.

According to him, “You will be able to generate a WhatsApp banking PIN and all your transaction authentications will be done using a safe link, thereby ensuring the security of your banking details.

“What is our rationale for doing this? We will be 125 years celebration anniversary of our bank. There is something unique about our institution. It is the ability to reinvent ourselves continuously, as the market in which we operate also continuous to evolve.

“You will recall that not only are we the oldest bank, we are the longest existing cooperated entity. Engrained in the DNA of our bank, the ability to rapidly reinvent ourselves and ensure that as far the developments in the market are concerned, we are in the forefront of those changes.

“Since the advent of digital technology, we have been playing a very pivotal role in this space. Today, I state with a lot of pride our achievement when it comes to the USSD Code, where we currently have 6.3 million customers and we are clearly number.

“When you look at the volume of businesses that we process on our USSD platforms, it is second to none. Not only do we have customers, we also have the fund and capital. When I look at the breakthrough achievements we have made in the area of agency banking, it is also second to none.

“This is an area where a lot of banks in the country have attempted to make headway, but has not been successful, as speak today, First Bank agents are spread all over the country, we are in 754 local Government Area, which is almost 90 percent of the 774 Local Government Areas. The only Local Government Areas where we are not available are places where they have security issues.

“Again, for us at First Bank, staying at the cutting edge of innovation and technology are synonymous with our DNA. First bank digital lab is integral part of our business and we will give all the resources that is needed to strive. This is the first and among the many innovative products that we are working on.

“Our strategic is that on a regular basis, there will be new things that we will be introducing to the market that will keep our customers very happy. The entire customer journey ensures that the quality of experience whenever the customers come in contact with us is excellent. We stand here and commit to exceeding our customers’ expectations from time.

In his remarks, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Francis Shobo, said there are various segments of the market, adding that for convenience, it was important to focus on the youths, who are on WhatsApp always.

He stated that they are consistently looking for what their customers are doing and the channel that are most convenient for them to do transaction.

“You don’t want them to leave one channel and go to another channel; you want to encourage them to use the channel they are used to start doing banking transaction. We are consistently looking for what our customers are doing and the channel that are most convenient for them to do transaction,” he noted.

Also speaking, the Team Lead Product Design, FirstBank Digital Lab, Munachi Duru, said with WhatsApp platform, customers would be able to make couple of transactions, check their balance, buy airtime, send to both first bank and non-first bank accounts, and buy data.

He also noted that they have also introduced a much secured process for customer’s accounts for digital transactions by ensuring that customers’ pin are entered secured securely that way, “the pin is not exposed to anyone who may pick up your phone.”

Duru explained that what the bank has done using the platform is that instead of going through the lists of all the banks, all the customer needs to do is to enter their account number, select the bank they are transferring, select the amount transferring and then click on the link to authenticate the process.

According to Duru: “With the WhatsApp platform, you will be able to make couple of transactions, check your balance, buy airtime, send to both first bank and non-first bank accounts, and buy data.

“We have also introduced a much secured process for our accounts for digital transactions by ensuring that your pin is entered secured securely that way, the pin is not exposed to anyone who may pick up your phone. “What we have done here is that instead of going through the lists of all the banks, all you need to do is to enter the account number, select the bank you are transferring, select the amount you are transferring and then click on the link to authenticate the process.”

From the event, it was learnt that the WhatsApp being the most used and informed messenger platform in the country, informed the bank’s decision to invest it to drive digital banking.

The platform has helped the bank to take that banking businesses down to the place where the customers are having discussion about the money. The bank is concerned about the security of customers as a result; the platform is vested in the security of customers to ensure that the transactions, starting from on-boarding process is secured end to end.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Business

FG Asks Customs to Ground Private Jets over Failure to Pay Import Duties

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has instructed the Nigerian Customs Service to ensure the grounding of 91 private jets, which are owned by some particularly rich Nigerians, over the payment of import duties.

The individuals in question have allegedly refused to pay their import duties, which are running up to about N30 billion. This has prompted the Federal Government to make the call to ground their private jets.

The Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.) has since written a letter to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) instructing the agencies to ground the concerned private jets with immediate effect.

The letter was dated November 2, 2021 and was addressed to the Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu. The same letter was also sent and addressed to the Managing Director of the FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu and the Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu.

In the letter, the three addressed agencies were instructed to ground the private jets by refusing them proper administrative and operational flight clearances until further notice.

The letter went ahead to state that the indefinite refusal of administrative and operational flight clearances will be lifted once the Nigerian Customs Service has issued an Aircraft Clearance Certificate, and the certificate is provided to the agencies as evidence of cooperation.

Nairaland’s findings report that some of the private jets which are victims of the grounding order are owned by senior pastors of some Pentecostal churches across the country, Chief Executive Officers of some earlier oil companies, the Chairmen of some Tier-1 banks in the country, as well as some Tier-1 banks themselves with one of said banks owning two upmarket jets themselves.

However, some of the owners of these jets have written letters of protest to the Customs Service, stating that they cannot pay import duties because the private jets in question are under lease payments.

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Merger and Acquisition

Seplat Energy to Acquire ExxonMobil’s Nigerian Shallow Water Business

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Seplat Energy Plc - Investors King

Seplat Energy Plc, Nigeria’s leading indigenous energy company, has confirmed that it is in the process of acquiring ExxonMobil’s Nigerian shallow water business.

The company disclosed in a statement signed by Mr. Emeka Onwuka, Chief Financial Officer, and accessed by Investors King.

ExxonMobil has been selling off its businesses in Europe, Africa, and Asia in recent years to focus on a few mega-projects at home and abroad.

The statement reads, “Seplat Energy Plc, a leading Nigerian energy company listed on the Nigerian Exchange and the London Stock Exchange, notes the recent press speculation and confirms that Seplat Energy, together with a partner, is in competitive discussions to acquire ExxonMobil’s Nigerian shallow water business.”

According to Seplat, there is no certainty as to the outcome of the ongoing discussions.

“Deliberations are ongoing and accordingly, there can be no certainty as to the outcome. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate, in line with regulatory requirements,” Seplat stated.

The announcement is coming a few days after Seplat Chairman, ABC Orjiako resigned from his position as the Chairman of the company following a debt scandal with Zenith Bank Plc.

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Company News

Uber to Halt Services in Parts of Belgium

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Uber

Uber will stop its ride-hailing service in most parts of Belgium tomorrow after a court ruling on Wednesday which extends an order given in 2015, banning its p2p (Peer to Peer) UberPop service to also cover professional drivers who provide its ride-hailing service.

Uber told TechCrunch that it is currently closely examining the details of the ruling, in order to arrive at a decision on whether or not to appeal the decision with the country’s Supreme Court.

This also follows a temporary decision to discontinue Uber’s service in Brussels, a decision which was referred to as “exceptional and unprecedented” by the tech giant. The company said that it was merely taking a step to complain about the lack of reform rules which forbid drivers from using smartphones.

After the ruling by the Brussels appeal court, private hire vehicle drivers have been obstructing a major tunnel in the capital of Belgium.

In a statement made concerning Friday’s impending shutdown, the chief of Uber in the country, Laurent Slitsagain criticized the government for not providing a reform which it has been soliciting for, stating that the decision was made depending on regulations which are now outdated as they were written before smartphones.

The company stated that the government has promised a reform but has failed to deliver said reforms for the last seven years.

According to Bloomberg, the shutdown will not be applicable to a small number of drivers who are licensed in the Flemish region of Belgium, and are therefore still permitted to use the application. Uber confirmed that the Appeal Court ruling only applies to drivers with Brussels licenses.

In another statement, Slits stated that the tech giant is hugely concerned about the 2,000 possessors of LVC licenses (rental car with driver licenses) who according to the country chief will lose their ability to generate earnings.

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