UBA Mobile App: The Game-changer for Ghana’s Digital Finance Services

Regional Chief Executive Officer (RCEO), West Africa 1, Mrs Abiola Bawuah speaking at the launch in Accra, Ghana

Accra, Ghana, June 13, 2018//-Ghana’s enthusiastic efforts of becoming West Africa’s hub for digital financial services (DFS) have been boosted by the meteoric penetration of smartphones, robust IT infrastructure, sound policies and growing middle-class.
Similarly,  several vital elements have contributed to the shift to digital payments, notably good connectivity, growing financial infrastructure, and a continuously improving regulatory environment.

Significantly, there is also a common recognition of the need to continue building an inclusive and responsible digital payments ecosystem in the West African second largest economy.

Doing so is driving financial inclusion, particularly for women, improve transparency of payments, and open up new markets for goods and services, which in turn supports economic growth.

Ghana’s Ministry of Finance and the UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance  in 2017 released a report titled ‘Building an Inclusive Digital Payments Ecosystems: The Way Forward’ documenting the country’s progress in creating an economy where everyone can pay and get paid digitally, instead of cash.

According to the report, 80 percent of the population uses public essential services such as water and electricity, but only 20 percent of the population has access to digital technology such as smart meters.

With 97 percent of fees and fines currently paid in cash, the Ghanaian government could gain enormous cost savings if they commit to using digital payments exclusively and mandate all government agencies to use a central payment system.

For FMCG companies operating in Ghana, 96 percent of distributor payments and 59 percent of vendor and employee payments in volume are made in cheques, the report noted.

However, 99.9 percent of individual payments for consumption goods by volume are still completed in cash, as individuals continue to purchase essential consumer goods, including food, in the informal economy with small retailers.

UBA Mobile App is the game-changer

This is the void UBA Mobile App and its sister product- Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)  code *822# which were launched on Tuesday 12, June 2018, in Accra, Ghana, are in to fill.

The UBA Mobile App is meant for customers who are using smartphones. While the USSD code *822# is designed for customers using feature phones.

These are mobile phones that incorporate features such as the ability to access the Internet and store and play music but lack the advanced functionality of smartphones.

Launching the two products at the bank’s headquarters, the elated Regional Chief Executive Officer (RCEO), West Africa 1, Mrs Abiola Bawuah explained that the products were introduced in line with the bank’s strategy to drive the experience of “banking without boundaries” to their customers through digital innovation.

Customers remain the bank’s focus

“As a bank, co-creating with our customers remains part of our focus. Over the period, we have been informed by the taste and lifestyle of our customers and as such provided these two new solutions-Mobile Banking App and *822# to enhance their banking relationship with us and give our customers greater value”.

We live in an age and time where people want a hustle-free way of banking, so we decided to introduce more features in our Mobile Banking App, which gives our customers greater value”, she noted.

The two lifestyle products have been updated to bring a whole new banking experience to customers of the Pan African Bank, Mrs Bawuah said.

“With 128% penetration of mobile phones in Ghana, banking on mobile phone is the way to go”, Mrs Bawuah noted.

“Also, we want to drive financial inclusion, hence our decision to launch the two products”.

New products make banking easy

Reviewing the products, the Head of Digital Banking Products and Sales of the UBA Ghana, John Olakunmi emphasised that the new Mobile Banking App and USSD platforms had been created with banking features that enable customers to operate a mini branch on their mobile devices.

This therefore makes banking more convenient, easy and accessible to all category of the bank customers in the country, he added.

Mr Olakunmi was quick to say that the new Mobile Banking App demonstrates the UBA’s aim to provide unparalleled experience across all its channels.

On his part, the bank’s head of IT, Kwame Aduansere collaborated that the introduction of the products was in line with the bank’s vision to dominate Africa’s digital banking space.

Features and security

The Mobile App comes with biometric log-in and facial recognition features for secure and personalized access.

“Your money is secured if you lose your mobile. This is because we built in different layers of security so that nobody can tamper with it”, he told journalists during questions and answers time.

Services

UBA customers can register for these services to transfer money, buy airtime, check account balances, pay bills, transfer funds and conduct mobile money transfers amongst other functions with the new Mobile Banking App and USSD, Mr Aduansere mentioned.

Also, you can use your visa, and Mastercards as well.

“With *822#, UBA Ghana advances in an industry trend which hopes to extend banking services to the less tech savvy customers, and customers who may not have the taste for internet banking, as well as the financially excluded persons” he continued.

App available for download

The application is now available for download on Apple Store and Google Play.

The launch of these products demonstrates the bank’s culture of service excellence, strengthening the affinity with our existing customers while reinforcing the UBA brand as one to be associated with by the entire banking public, according to the senior officials.

By transitioning away from cash, small business owners can avoid storing large amounts of cash, drive customers’ adoption and boost access to formal saving and loan products which can expand their economic potential.

This will especially improve the lives of women, who represent many of the small retailers in the FMCG sector.

The UBA Mobile App has the tremendous potential  to cause a shift to digital payments in this value chain system in the country.

By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, African Eye Report

 

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