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By Lamin Manjang

Think back to a time when the word “Bank” came to mind. It conjures up images of long lines, clocking numbers, paperwork to fill out, pressure to process transactions during working hours, waiting for physical transaction approvals.

Fast forward to more recent times with the impact of technology and financial literacy, the word “Bank” evokes different reactions for many people. Personalized financial growth, opportunities for business collaborations, access to foreign investment opportunities, transferable generational wealth and financial security on its terms are some of the dominant thoughts of clients.

Customers now have 24-hour access to information at the touch of a finger and can determine which financial needs they want their financial partners to meet. The union of innovation, digital literacy and collaborative opportunities to deliver financial services gives us the solution that is Digital Banking.

Digital banking in Nigeria has evolved significantly over the past five years to become an important part of our day-to-day business, driving e-commerce, wealth creation, payment solutions, financial empowerment and improving the level of life.

In a world of digital banking and with innovation and technology positioning itself as the future of payments and wealth creation, financial institutions have several opportunities to address some of the nation’s biggest challenges in creating wealth. employment, economic empowerment and financial inclusion for young people while being a catalyst for efficiency within the sector.

As with any attempt at automation, curiosity with increased caution is expected primarily around the impact on job opportunities and business sustainability. However, the reality is that with digitalization, employees in any organization have immense opportunities to learn new skills that position them for the future working environment which will be predominantly digital.

Digitization promotes efficiency. For example, it expands and expands a bank’s ability to reach existing and new customers previously unreachable due to the limitations of physical branches. Digitization simplifies manual processes through automation; reduces delays experienced by end users; creates new employment opportunities, thereby creating multiple opportunities for retraining, upskilling and redeploying employees into new roles.

At Standard Chartered, we are a responsive, customer-focused financial institution. We focus on understanding how our clients want to transact; how we can improve the products and services that are important to them while ensuring the smooth delivery of those solutions.

A growing number of our customers tell us that they want financial solutions that they can access and use anytime and anywhere from the comfort of their own mobile devices.

They want to be able to access investment opportunities 24/7 at their fingertips and also connect with our customer service specialists who can help them whenever they have questions. The continuous optimization of our digital banking solutions allows us to meet these financial needs.

In December 2021, as part of the digitization journey we embarked on a few years ago to improve our processes, we closed 10 of our branches in Lagos and Abuja and made significant investments to optimize our operating channels, our products and our service solutions according to the demands of our customers.

The decision, with the regulator’s approval, was also prompted by changes in customer trading behavior. We have seen significant adoption of our digital banking services by customers as most of them continue to prioritize convenient banking services over traveling to one of our physical locations to access our products and services.

In addition to our customer-centric digital strategy, we are proud of the implementation of a forward-looking human resources strategy in which we proactively plan our workforce needs to achieve our strategy. commercial.

The banking landscape is very dynamic and customer needs are changing rapidly. This year, in response to this, we continue to strategically prepare our employees for the future work environment which will be predominantly digital. We continue to develop, equip and redeploy employees, especially those impacted by the closure of Lagos and Abuja branches, to ensure career growth and stability for our employees this year.

But digitization does not only benefit our customers and employees. Digitization also offers the opportunity to have a positive impact on communities.

The importance of quick access to finance, for example, cannot be underestimated and with financial exclusion still being a barrier in parts of Nigeria – digital innovation in banking can influence a positive transformation within of the sector.

Recently, the bank launched its Agency Banking service as part of its Digital Banking proposition to Lagos customers. This builds on the launch of our world-class digital bank in December 2019. SC Mobile, the Bank’s mobile app, has virtually put banking in the hands of the customer, as customers can open new end-to-end accounts end-to-end, transferring funds, making static data changes, having cards delivered to their doorstep, investing in real time, etc.

We have also launched our Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) service, *977#, for customers who may not have access to internet service and wish to transact. These are just a few of the initiatives we continue to lead in support of CBN’s financial inclusion program to empower Nigerians.

We have adopted a ‘Capture the Digital Initiative’ approach which ensures that over 70% of the most common service requests can be handled by our digital bank with distinct advantages such as no fees on all interbank transactions, no charge on SMS notifications and free delivery of cards to customers regardless of location. We stay ahead of the curve on how best to continue to simplify and improve our customers’ experience with the bank.

According to the 2020 NIBBS report, customers aged 25-34 made 36% of all interbank instant payments. With approximately 60% of the Nigerian population setting the pace for the adoption of innovative technologies, it is essential to welcome the latter while firmly holding the former by striking a balance in meeting specific customer needs.

Digital banking is no longer a series of financial transactions and services. It is an innovative solution aimed at empowering and creating lasting prosperity for our customers, colleagues and the community. This is the future and we are all encouraged to embrace and maximize these changes for the benefit of all.

Lamin Manjang is the CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria.

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