First Bank of Nigeria Limited said its 894 quick banking, a USSD-based mobile telephony channel that enables customers to access banking services using any type of phone and without data or internet recorded transactions worth N1 trillion done by 4.5 million customers in 2017, a 250 per cent increase compared to what it recorded in 2016.
The bank said it plans to increase its customer base on the USSD platform to over 6.5 million before the end of this year, with over N3 trillion worth of transactions projected to be processed this year. According to FirstBank’s group head, e-business, Chuma Ezirim, over 60 per cent of its customers currently use the bank’s digital platforms (FirstMobile, Firstonline and 894 Banking) to transact accounting for about 21 per cent of transactions on the NIBSS Instant Payment platform.
Ezirim noted that a major element of the bank’s strategy is to make payments and collections easier for businesses around the country. Digitizing payment and collections processes not only improves transparency and efficiency, but also helps a business to grow. “That is why our 894 service is very useful for our Corporate and SME customers because every Nigerian can pay using 894 irrespective of the type of phone he/she uses, and without the barrier of internet access.”
Speaking on the impact of the bank’s financial inclusion services on customers and the economy, Ezirim said that in addition to providing FirstBank customers a more convenient and faster way to carry out basic banking transactions, the 894 banking service has led to the creation of over 500 new jobs for young Nigerians who assist customers to adopt digital platforms at the various branches of the bank nationwide.
The 894 service is simple, secure, and easy to use, which is why the adoption rate by customers is very high. The channel is enabling the Bank to provide more efficient banking services to its customers, and offers a cost effective growth of the Bank’s retail and commercial banking businesses.
Customers who use 894 are able to check their balance, send/transfer money to any bank account in Nigeria, buy airtime for themselves and for their loved ones, confirm payments, open accounts, and do lots more. The “894 Collection and CashOut” service is effectively designed for businesses to receive payments for goods and services, and to address their cash management challenges.