The Managing Director/CEO, Diamond Bank Plc, Uzoma Dozie, has said that going cardless is well suited to the realities of Nigeria’s economy and geography, with over 50 per cent of the population living in rural communities where infrastructure is often minimal.
The lender’s boss explained that bank customers are more likely to have access to a mobile phone than proximity to a physical branch, meaning electronic payments are better suited to the population.
In an article written by the Diamond Bank CEO, which was obtained by our correspondent in Lagos, said that the ubiquity of mobile phones, the number of people across Nigeria using mobile banking is rising exponentially. This is creating the opportunity to turn my vision of a cardless Nigeria into a reality.
According to him, by 2020 there will be 200 million smartphone connections in Africa (Guardian). In Nigeria, there are more mobile phone lines than adults, 16 smartphones are sold every minute and 24 per cent of people already have access to mobile broadband (GSMA).
“Mobile technology, mobile payments, and therefore cardless payments are already becoming a way of life for millions of people. Digital banking technology is moving beyond payments, as it is now possible to open a bank account, create savings plans and conduct other transactions using a mobile device.
“Traditionally, the progression is as follows: cash-using customers become cashless as they switch to using cards, and then become cardless as they switch to using their mobile for all financial transactions. However, technological developments – in particular the growing use of mobile – have presented Nigeria with a unique opportunity to leapfrog straight from cash to cardless”, he noted.
Mr. Dozie, therefore, added that there are great challenges to overcome in Nigeria, with 80 per cent of payments are still made in cash. He said: “Diamond Bank is at the forefront of modernising payments with 89 per cent of our transactions now cashless – up from 67 per cent in July 2016. Steps are being taken in the right direction, and technological innovation can really propel this transformation forward.
The bank’s CEO, stressed that the leap to a cardless society will have life-changing ramifications for rural Nigerians. “For example, in Diamond Bank’s partnership with MTN, over nine million customers have opened a bank account on their mobile phone simply by dialling a shortcode. Opening an account no longer requires a branch – it only needs a phone signal, which covers 99 per cent of Nigeria.
He, however, advised that using cardlesss technology to reach remote communities should be a key priority for Nigeria’s banks, adding that doing so is a win-win situation; not only does it ensure more people are banked, it ensures more people are part of the formal economy.
“This will create jobs and revenue – necessary for the development of healthcare, education and some other key national infrastructure. “Going cardless will also give people access to financial products on-the-go. This improves the customer experience, as in a cardless economy people can make a range of payments anywhere and on a 24/7 basis, spending less time at ATMs and branches and more time generating commerce or with families”, he stated.