BY FUNKE OSAE-BROWN
Folarin is a smart entrepreneur who is in touch with technological advancement and the digital age. He has different apps on his mobile phone which he uses to organise both his business and private lives. He has a food app which he uses to order for his breakfast and lunch, he has another one that takes care of his love for music and another which he uses to manage his transactions online without stepping into a bank. He tells me, his bank is forward looking and futuristic enough to make banking easy for him and his clients.
“I have been banking with FirstBank since I was in school as an undergraduate, says Folarin. My mum opened the account for me. That was where she sent my monthly allowance. After school, I didn’t close the account I simply continued with the tradition.”
It was not difficult for Folarin to decide he would open his corporate account with FirstBank when he started his business a few years ago. He says the ease at which he gets his transactions done on FirstBank’s application, FirstMobile, endears him to the bank.
“I can do many transactions with FirstMobile. I can do bank transfers, check my balance, receive alerts on any transaction I do. There is also a beneficiary section that enables me save the account numbers of people close to me for future transactions.”
The FirstMobile App has over the years offered succour to FirstBank customers.
Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, FirstBank says “FirstBank wanted a truly branchless experience for its customers and thus enhanced the app to deliver an instant, remote, self-enrolment feature. Hence, in 2015, onboarding process on FirstMobile was improved with self-service feature; empowering customers to remotely complete their onboarding process on the App without visiting a branch.”
In addition, Chuma Ezirim, Group Head, e-Business, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said the soft token was also launched to satisfy the needs of customers who did not want to carry the hard token about. “It serves the same purpose as the hard token but provides the advantage of convenience and mobility as it is installed in the customer’s mobile phone,” he noted.
Another interesting digital service platform by FirstBank is the FirstBillsPay, a biller aggregator platform. It aggregates various billers through a secured connection to the bank, to avail its customers a single payment point for all bills from their accounts.
“In addition to FirstMobile and FirstBillsPay is FirstCheckOut. This is an additional payment option that can be integrated to merchant website that will allow customers pay bills directly from their bank accounts as a substitute to cards. We also have the 894 USSD Quick Banking service as part of our financial inclusion drive. The *894# USSD service makes banking services available across all GSM networks, on any type of device, anywhere and at any time; this gives it a unique selling point,” explained Ezirim.
There are also the Emerging Channels (USSD Collections, mCash, MVISA). These platforms are to ensure FirstBank gets its customers connected in a seamless way in the digital driven age.
“Our FirstBank mVisa is an innovative mobile payment solution that allows consumers to pay for goods and services via FirstMobile by scanning a QR code using a smart phone or by dialing a USSD number on a phone. Payment goes directly from the consumer’s account into the merchant’s account and both parties get real-time notification. The USSD Collections allow merchants to receive payments from customers simply by using 894 USSD string for FirstBank customers. The focus segments for USSD Collections are Manufacturing/FMCGs/ Value Chain Businesses, Petrol Stations, Network Marketing Companies, Transporting Companies, Churches, Schools and others,” says Ezirim.
Furthermore, FirstBank Agent banking was launched towards the end of 2017. The bank recruited Firstmonie Agents and empowered them to carry out basic financial services within their vicinity. Firstmonie Agents are literally human extensions of almost all the banking activities, they are strategically positioned within communities with large population of unbanked and underbanked individuals. With the large network of Firstmonie Agents spread across the length and breadth of the country, financial inclusion is significantly promoted by FirstBank.
Now, the new kid on the block for FirstBank is the chat banking on WhatsApp. With this, FirstBank’s customers can leverage on the real-time messaging capabilities of the WhatsApp Business solution to check their account balances as well as perform simple banking queries.
“Customers’ expectations are constantly changing and it’s our duty as a customer focused bank to ensure that our customers are provided with the means to carry out banking services through any channel they desire,” says Ezirim. “We are constantly seeking new ways and opportunities to meet customers at their preferred touch points and we understand our customers are actively engaged on WhatsApp.”
With FirstBank chatbanking on WhatsApp, it is not just about staying connected with friends and loved ones, but also keeping in touch with FirstBank anytime and anywhere you are.