By Odunewu Segun
One of Nigeria’s biggest banks by market capitalization, Guaranty Trust Bank, says it’s keen to leverage on digital technology to expand the reach of its products and services.
Speaking recently at a forum, Managing Director /CEO of the Bank, Segun Agbaje, said mobile has become very big and lots of people are using their mobile phones to transact business.
“GTBank Bank 737 provides banking services to millions of Nigerian mobile phone owners, and does not require internet access to perform basic banking services. Anyone with a phone registered in Nigeria can open an account, transfer money, buy airtime or check their balance by dialling *737#.”
“Through this service, which makes banking simpler, cheaper and faster, we continue to pull into the banking stream many of those who have long been excluded from the country’s financial framework”, said Agbaje. “Since its introduction, we have recorded an uptake of over three million customers and over NGN 1trn [$3.1bn] in transactions via the platform.”
Agbaje said core to GTBank’s digital strategy was the understanding that the future of banking is digital, and the bank’s determination to lead that future.
He said: “We know, because digital technologies have dissolved the boundaries between industry sectors, that our competition is no longer just banks.it now includes fintechs, telcos and tech companies that can provide speed and flexibility to customers as we can. This creates tough challenges for the banking sector, but it also creates ample opportunities to extend our footprint”
Agbaje pointed out that GTBank aim to take advantage of the new opportunities born from the digital revolution by moving beyond bank’s traditional role as enablers of financial transactions and providers of financial products, to playing a deeper role in the digital and commercial lives of its customers.
“Our immediate focus is three-pronged; to digitalize our key processes, build a robust data-gathering infrastructure, and create a well-designed, segmented and integrated customer experience, rather than a one-size-fits-all distribution. In the long run, our goal is to build a digital bank that consistently delivers faster, cheaper and better solutions for the constantly evolving needs of our customers.”
Agbaje also pointed out that, while GTBank has made significant gains in getting customers to accept digital banking as a viable alternative to traditional forms, there is still more to be done. That said, he is hopeful that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ‘Cash-less Nigeria’ policy, which discourages the use of cash, will drive greater migration to e-banking platforms.
The lack of digital and electrical infrastructure, as well as lower levels of wealth than those found in more developed markets, means that there are some barriers to the full adoption of digital banking that are particular to Africa, Agbaje argued. “Another obvious challenge is the little focus given to innovation in the banking industry.”
“We are also tackling the innovation challenge. We now operate an open innovation policy; through which we invest significantly in building our in-house digital capabilities. At the same time, we are seeking effective partnerships and alliances to drive operational efficiency and boost our competitive advantage.”