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Digital technology, financial inclusion major successes for banking industry in 2018’


Ebehijie Momoh, head of Retail Banking, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited has been in the banking industry for over 26 years, and currently holds primary responsibility for the development and execution of the Retail Banking business strategy of the bank in Nigeria. Prior to her appointment as head of RB in Nigeria, Ebehijie was the head of SME Banking for Nigeria and West Africa. In this interview with Modestus Anaesoronye, she unveils the bank’s new partnership, retail development in Nigeria and the industry in 2018. Excerpts:

Standard Chartered Bank is partnering with Visa to issue a Visa Credit Card, Dubbed the 360° Rewards. Tell us about this partnership?

It is about adding value to our clients, and that is one of the things we take seriously at Standard Chartered Bank. Banking has gone beyond just collecting clients’ money and keeping it for them, but more of what values that could be added to the safety of their funds. Today, we have our credit card, and what we are doing in collaboration with Visa is bringing more value to the product we already have for our clients. And what does that mean? It means that today we are giving to our clients an opportunity that, while they spend with international banks as well as local ones (over 200,000 of them worldwide), they earn points. We are going to give to our client’s opportunity to earn points which they can redeem. So for example, if a customer has a gold card, for every N200 you spend on our credit card you earn a point, which you can redeem across the various brands wherever you shop, which include hotels, travelling is taken care of, wherever you shop here in Nigeria as well as outside Nigeria.

When is this reward promo starting, and how can clients key in?

It is starting right away. And one of the things we have done because it is about reward is that, if you have had a credit card and you have been spending, we will actually convert your existing spend into points, which means you have not lost anything because you are just going to register today. So, we will require our customers to go online and register so that they begin to enjoy these points. By the time you have activated, you can then use the points you have saved to shop at any of the stipulated merchants. So, for you that already have my credit card, what you need do is to just register.

How does this align with your strategy of enhanced consumer experience?

There are two things. One of the values we have communicated recently is how we have digitalized our platforms; how we have ensured that following the client’s behaviour being their life style. What are we saying? We said, “What is their behaviour, what is their spend.” So, we make it easy for you, whether you are on the go or at the comfort of your home or office, you can actually do your spending. Because we have digitalized all our platforms, it means with your credit card you can actually do all your transactions without having to visit any of our branches. I am sure there are some people who have the credit card and may not have activated it or forgotten their password. What you need do is to go online on our digital platform and change it. These are making customer experience wonderful.

Now, what is the limit of this card that customers can enjoy?

Credit card has various limits depending on the customer, but for the reward, I can say it has no limit or it is limitless because the more money you spend using your credit card, the more points you earn. You are to determine what you limit is.

This is a good initiative, but what does it mean for the banking public in Nigeria?

One of the things that come to mind in what we have done with this initiative really is to tell our customers that they deserve more. We have been on it for a couple of years, and they whole focus is creating value for the banking public. Today, if you have my ATM card you can use it anywhere and in any ATM machine and that is where the banking industry has reached. It is now beyond just collecting clients’ money but creating more value for them.

Many still believe that Standard Chartered is an elitist bank, maybe because of the spread in terms of branch network. What is your take on this?

You know, one great thing that has happened to the banking industry is digital technology. Yes, many have said we don’t have a lot of branches, but with technology at your home in the village, you can do banking with Standard Chartered because digitalisation gives you the opportunity to bank with us. I don’t know if you are aware that we are the first bank in West Africa to launch end-to-end digitalisation of our banking services. So today without any interaction with a human being, a customer can actually open account, end to end. What does that do? Today, I may not be in Kano or Kafanchan, but because I have a digital platform that can enable my customers and clients to bank anywhere, it means I can reach everywhere. As a matter of fact, with an android (system) on your palm, we are already everywhere that we would have been if we were opening physical branches.

We are getting to the end of 2018. Looking at the retail space, what would you say was the success of the banking industry in the outgoing year?

I think for the current year, if I look at the way a lot of the banks have developed their digital platform, I think that is the success. When it comes to retail, understanding consumer behaviour, their life style, knowing their spend and where they need to be, if you ask me that is where a lot of progress has been made. If you look at the level of investment that banks have made in digital technology, you will agree with me that they are thinking about the retail customers. Second is financial inclusion, because the focus this year has been tremendous.  Yes, there has been so much talk about financial inclusion the past years, but the significant efforts in terms of collaboration between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the different banks this year has been remarkable. The regulator’s interest in financial inclusion, for me, is the second major success.

The issue of cyber security has been a major concern for the industry and sometimes we hear cases of fraud on customers. As a player in the retail space, do you think we protected?

I quite agree with you that in the era of digitalisation, one of the major concerns and indeed the concern, not just in Nigeria but all over the world, is cyber risk. This is not just limited to banks, but extends to other corporate institutions that are doing retail business and all that. But it also comes with it the opportunity to enhance those areas and ensure cyber security. The entire banking industry is aware of this, and you know, at Standard Chartered we are the leader when it comes to cyber security. In fact, there are actually certain certifications that you must have in place before you can expand your digital capabilities. I think everybody is aware. I won’t say it’s not a risk; it is. But we are constantly improving our technology to ensure we are ahead of the fraudsters.

But the fact that there are policies and certifications required before you can operate or expand your digital capabilities gives us some comfort. But still, beyond just machine and certifications, the people. Today, in Standard Chartered Bank, from time to time especially during the Yuletide seasons like this, we send SMS, letting our customers to be aware that these things exist. If you ask me, making customers aware that these things exist and reminding them from time to time, giving examples of the kind of things that can come  is extremely important and we have done that in Standard Chartered Bank a couple of times and we will continue to do it.

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