In this piece, GODDIE OFOSE takes a look at the effort at abolishing old thrift contribution system, otherwise known as ‘Ajo’ or ‘Esusu’ through the use of Access Bank’s innovative online payment platform, PayWithCapture
Recently, the Nigerian banking landscape was redefined through the upgrade of Access Bank’s digital solution platform, PayWithCapture. Apparently from an ineffective 3.6 to the 5.0, the bank was determined to make its digital banking application fast, convenient, hassle-free and above all, redefine the old thrift or mutual contributory financing- ‘Adashe’, ‘Ajo’ or ‘Esusu’ in the country.
The Adashe’, ‘Ajo’ or ‘Esusu’ as it is applicable to people of the north, south and eastern part of Nigeria is practised among the low income earners in the sub-urban areas, colleagues at work place, artisans and rural dwellers.
With this in view, Access Bank on August 9, 2016, refreshed the revolutionary lifestyle solution, PayWithCapture to a more illimitable version.
The latest version, PayWithCapture 5.0, according to a statement from the bank, comes with additional features that enable customers to transfer funds from any bank account (one or more) to any bank account or phone number and email addresses.
It also expanded to the web for users to experience the many benefits on larger screens. The payment solution offers a USSD service *901# that allows users to carry out most of the listed functions without the need to access the internet.
Describing the new offering as a way of expanding the frontiers of banking in the country, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, stated that the new PayWithCapture 5.0 is an improvement on a similar application, PayWithCapture 3.6, introduced last year.
He explained that the new offering had become imperative despite the unique features of the earlier version, because of the increasing sophistication of today’s banking public in the country and the need for the bank to be in tune with the customers’ want.
The bank’s chief executive described the new application as one of the ways of deepening financial inclusion in the country, since the application allows Nigerians, from even the remotest part of the country to avail themselves of the opportunities of sending and receiving money, even without an internet facility.
“The fact that the application does not require an internet facility for one to use it gives room for a lot of Nigerians in remote areas to send or receive money, unlike the regular online banking applications, hitherto, in use”, Wigwe said.
On the Old ‘Ajo’ Model
It is one in which you have a collector, who moves around a specific area collecting money from members and associates. The amount contributed is recorded on two cards – one with the collector and the other with the saver. The first contribution by the saver is regarded as payment for the service of the collector, and as such one’s total contribution within a specific period is minus the first contribution. The fund is accessed on a pre-agreed date with the collector. If for any reason one stops contributing, he/she would access the fund less the first contribution. The model has a major risk of the collector bolting away with the funds. But to guard against such risk, contributors find means to know the family members or relations of the collector, in the belief that a collector knowing that his contributors are acquainted with his people would be less inclined to bolt away.
In another form, a group of people can come together and agree on a certain amount to be contributed by each and the number of people to contribute. I have had to form a few thrift groups myself and I have one running as you read this post.
The major risk in thrift or mutual contributory financing is in the case of inability of a member to contribute, may be, through loss of job or other reasons known to members of the group. This causes a reduction in the pool of fund and a loss if the defaulter has already collected his due.
PayWithCapture Saving Club
Unlike the old thrift model, this innovation gives users the ease of savings with friends or individually using the saving club concept. Like common “Ajo’, this can be used by market women as in normal contribution and then cash out accordingly as agreed among contributors.
The Head of Digital Banking at Access Bank, Adeleke Adekoya, said “PayWithCapture 5.0 users can still enjoy the success of QR code scanning for payments but with the added ability to make transfers to bank accounts, phone numbers and email addresses. Users can also set up a savings club through PayWithCapture. Savings Clubs, commonly known as Ajo or Esusu enable them save jointly with friends towards a common goal as the funds can be pooled and rotated among all members of the group or pooled and given to one person”.
Concerning the old app, Adekoya assured on the effectiveness of the new app, especially as it relates to the saving club model. He explained: “We heard about the issues and complaints our customers had on the old app. With this new version, we’ve tried to resolve them all”.
According to him, the latest version has extended beyond simply scanning QR-Codes to pay for transactions to allowing customers experience banking in a way that feels as personal as they want it to be.
“This new application will avail customers with new experience. It is going to change the belief of many about banking in Nigeria”, he said.
He assured customers of the application’s security, noting that this had been tested in different countries across the globe before its introduction here.