The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group yesterday disclosed its preparedness to enhance contactless banking across Africa for the safety of its customers.
The bank pointed out that with the coronavirus which necessitates social distancing, there is need to ramp up banking channels that would ensure less physical contact by its customers.
The Group Head, Digital Banking, UBA, Mr. Sampson Aneke, revealed this during a virtual media parley that involved journalists across the continent.
The Chairman Group, Mr. Tony Elumelu, was also in attendance.
Aneke, also said the recent upgrade of UBA app offers customers seamless means to pay for goods through the Quick Response code (QR code), adding that the bank also plans to introduce Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) banking in the nearest future.
Aneke anticipated that the COVID-19 pandemic would hasten digital banking penetration as well as financial inclusion across the continent.
He added: “We are pushing services to what we call BYOD and these are for sustainability. Banks that would survive in the coming days would mean that the more BYOD you do, the more are ready to survive.
“We are taking our services to the devices that customers hold themselves. You would be happier to use the device you came out with from your home to transact than shared facilities.”
Speaking on innovations to expect from the bank, Aneke said: “We are thinking of voice banking across various channels, we are thinking of image withdrawals where we can just scan your image and you can withdraw.
“So some of these things that would replace point of sale (PoS), some are already here while some are still in the making like QR code we already have in the current app, so you wouldn’t need PoS.
“We are making QR code so easy so that you can on your app the merchant to like and use regularly. There a lot of things we are doing to make life easy for our customers and to help maintain good hygiene because the current situation calls for seriousness as far as hygiene is concerned.”
Aneke, also said the new UBA app has a feature that allows transfer to telephone numbers. Another feature the bank introduced in the new app is that it allows group transfer.
Also speaking during the media briefing, the Group Head, Consumer and Retail Banking, Mr. Jude Anele said: “The era of people going to ATMs to punch keys, slotting cards at PoS terminals where you need to use your fingers to punch the buttons is almost going because of health concerns.
“Most of the transmission you might get and other aliment would come from such. So, what would gain ground is contactless payment systems where you don’t have to make contact to be able to pay.”
He added: “If you go to countries like Kenya and most parts of East and central Africa, you would find that while financial inclusion is deepening over there is because of the spread and depth at which financial technology and mobile payments has gone in those countries.
“I believe that what COVID-19 has done for Africa, from a positive perspective is that it would actually hasten the adoption of digital banking which is actually the most cost-effective way to reached the unbanked.”
Anele further said: “What would take effect now and in the near future in payments in banks would largely be contactless payments. And contactless payments would happen largely around person to person transfers, USSD and that would include many people.”
According to him, the most cost-effective way to reach the banked and unbanked would be through the mobile phone. This, he said is because the mobile phone has the greatest penetration across Africa.