By our special correspondent
United Bank for Africa, UBA says that it has concluded plans to commemorate the fourth year anniversary of its flagship artificial intelligence Chabot, Leo, with new offerings set to further change the face of digital banking in Nigeria. Birthed 11January 2018 with a firm resolve to prioritize its customers as well as put the bank at the heart of disruptive technologies that will transform the experience of esteemed customers, UBA recorded three million users hooked in less than three years of its inception.
Leo, which the bank stressed, has proved to be the most formidable artificial intelligence Chatbot till date, serving an ever-increasing customer-base that now has less transaction hassles to worry about is currently available on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Apple Business Chat.
To further extend its reach, UBA has concluded plans to commence Leo services on Instagram and Google Business, terrains none of its peers can lay claim to. Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA, Kennedy Uzoka, affirmed that UBA customers indeed agree that Leo is one of the bank’s biggest investments in cutting-edge technology and has been steadily changing the face of banking on the continent. “Three years later, and with over almost four million customers and counting, UBA’s Leo, has without a doubt, remained the smartest Banking Chatbot in Nigeria because of its speed and quick learning intelligence and has continued to evolve with plenty to offer its teeming customers. While other financial institutions are still trying to find their feet as regards Artificial Intelligence, we can proudly say that our Leo has become a massive success as it continues to consolidate on its successes and accolades, winning several awards in a short while of its existence,” he added.
Uzoka continued: “In just four years, Leo’s landmark achievements have been indeed overwhelming, covering 20 African countries as well as garnering over 10 prestigious awards globally, a feat that is exceptional by every standard. I must say we are proud of Leo’s intimidating achievement which is largely unbeatable. With this in mind, we have ensured that Leo continues to enjoy periodic and systematic upgrades with special emphasis on enhanced advancements and specialized unique features where necessary”.
Uzoka further explained that Leo is already present in 20 African countries and in three languages and has a number of features bound to fascinate existing and potential customers with services that are extremely fast and secure as all transactions and enquiries are encrypted, end-to-end. “Leo has the ability to do a wide range of things, including funds transfer, call card top-up, checking of account balance, retrieval of bank statements, instant account openings for new customers, statement to embassy/other banks/microfinance, purchase of airtime/ data, paying of bills, effectively helping with savings and spend limit.
“The AI chatbot also boasts of remarkable innovative features that allow customers to enjoy banking Services – Request/stop/confirm Cheques, Block card, Log & track complaints, ATM/Branch Locator, Freeze accounts, and check weather etc. Other features include Customer Care complaint resolution, linking of new accounts, flight payment, linking and funding of Prepaid Card, Travel Notification, Wakanow services and Dubai Visa service,” he explained.
In another development, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, the local division of London-headquartered multinational banking and financial services firm Standard Chartered Plc, is discontinuing operation of around 50 per cent of branches in Nigeria, a step targeting prioritization of digital banking according to Bloomberg report on Monday 11 January 2022, citing insiders. The closure took off in December, which means just 13 branches of the bank will be up and running ultimately, compared to around 25 operating before the move, according to the news outlet.
Lenders are deploying mobile money services on a vast scale in Nigeria to tap the market of the unbanked population comprising approximately 38 million adults, which Dataphyte estimated to be worth N26.2 trillion for the first 11 months of last year. But formidable competition from mushrooming fintech companies means players late to agency-banking rave like Standard Chartered Bank could struggle to gain traction. The bank is now firming up mobile banking operations at the same time enlisting agents to expand its clientele, according to people who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A Standard Chartered Bank spokesperson did not respond to an email from journalists seeking comment. The lender has centred its operations on corporate banking since it launched in the country but is giving increasing attention to retail banking, which has led to the introduction of digital lending aimed at easing access to soft loans and ramping up the size of retail credit. Many banks including big lenders see agency banking as a cost-saving alternative to setting up branches and a veritable strategy suitable for reaching rural areas and financially excluded communities.