Richard Hudson, Chief Executive
Toma Imirhe & Elorm Desewu examine how one of the latest banks on the Ghanaian market is taking a different approach to improving customer relationship.
First National Bank (FNB)’s convenient and secure digital banking channels have begun raising industry standards to unprecedented levels in Ghana.
Even though most banks in Ghana have some form of digital banking offering, First National Bank stands unique in the area of digital banking.
Its traditional banking delivery channels are merely an additional means for customers to receive their financial products and services.
What’s more? The bank’s customers can do their financial transactions almost entirely from the comfort of their homes or offices, no matter how sophisticated those transactions are, by using their laptops or their mobile phones.
Indeed the strong penetration rate of mobile telephony in Ghana, and to a lesser extent, movable laptop computers, has set the foundation for First National Bank to offer digital banking to just about everybody.
It certainly has extended First National Bank’s reach well beyond its branch network.
Richard Hudson, Chief Executive of the bank, explained: “We understood that customers are likely to own and use mobile devices so we had to give them access to banking on these devices, thereby placing customer convenience first.”
This fits in perfectly with the bank’s overall strategy of being first and foremost a transactionary bank, offering the most convenient medium for customers to execute their financial transactions, and then providing financial intermediation for those customers who are in need.
Using digital rather than traditional banking to do this offers customers a whole new world of convenience. Importantly, customers have complete control over their accounts and have real time, online information about their accounts at their fingertips, 24 hours a day.
FNB’s Geo Payment platform allows payments between different accounts held with the bank within a five kilometer radius, using only the geographical location of one’s phone.
No account details are needed and this is available on both the App, as well as online banking.
In addition, the digital channels offer clients the ability to pay third party beneficiaries to any other bank in Ghana.
GhIPPS Instant Pay is also enabled on the app and online.
The scheduled payments function allows customers to schedule regular payments well in advance.
The transfer function allows for the immediate transfer of funds between a customer’s various accounts.
There is also a global payments function which allows clients to initiate payments to external beneficiaries via SWIFT.
First National Bank’s card management function gives customers the ability to activate and cancel cards by themselves.
Another function, for prepaid airtime purchases, allows for airtime purchases for all mobile networks in Ghana.
Customers are enabled to remain in full control of their accounts through the InContact feature both online and on the app while real time notifications are sent to customer by SMS or email, any time a transaction, within pre-determined parameters, occurs on the account.
The statements and transaction history function allows customers to view their daily transactions and request monthly statements free for up to 90 days.
In addition the ‘manage limits’ function allows customers to increase or decrease their daily or monthly payment limits, thereby ensuring that the customer remains in full control of their finances.
Combined, all these digital banking products and services cover almost the entire array of transaction needs of customers with the exception of securing cash directly from one’s account.
However, First National Bank is not only deploying ATMs at its branches but is also deploying them at an array of strategic third party locations, including major retail shopping outlets and key fuel stations in the city.
With digital banking being central to its product and service offering, First National Bank utilizes cyber security which renders its firewalls impregnable.
Verification of user name, password or fingerprints, are required when accessing digital banking. Beyond the security of customer accounts in general, a one-time PIN is sent to a customer’s phone or email which must be used before new, or ‘out of the ordinary’, digital financial transaction can be approved, giving customers assurance that their funds are safe with the bank.
However, Mr Hudson alerts: “Our customers need to be vigilant and protect personal banking information such as username, password, card and PIN details,” adding that the bank is also investing in customer education to ensure that its customers have the necessary information to safeguard their transactions.
“We urge all customers to keep up to date with the latest cyber scams and the measures that they need to take to ensure that their accounts are not compromised, all of which are available in the Security Centre of First National Bank’s website.”
All savings is a big feature on the bank’s digital banking platforms.