It is still a monumental task to get certain categories of Africans to
believe in banks in spite of the reforms and giant strides the banking industry
has made. People have continually lived in a world of scepticism and doubt
out of fear of losing their hard earned money if they decide to put
their money in the bank.
My late Grandma was a member of this school of doubt-filled people. In
her closet world, she would never take chances with her currency; whether it
was dollar or naira. Apart from a large chunk of her live savings which was
safely tucked away under her mattress or some ragged strip of fabric in one
remote corner of her bedroom, the rest would be at the fringes of her wrapper
as she hobbled around her little space. There are still other people who are
much younger than her, and are expected to know better, but store large amounts
of money in their homes with such unblinking cynicism.
Indeed, it takes a lot to change perception. For the unbanked African,
this would call for more detailed levels of personalized service if you ever
get such an individual to open an account.
The main allure of Africa’s banking market is basically its potentially
vast terrain. However, a large number of Africans are yet to engage the services
of banks as the age – old habit of stuffing money into pillows and mattresses
still, inhabit the African consciousness.
Demand for basic retail banking services has been on a steady rise and
this has been buoyed by a growing African middle class. In spite of the
drudgery and despair occasioned by post – conflict circumstances, the continent
has continued to show resilience in remoulding itself and staying afloat as an
investment destination. In line with this frenzy of reinvention, regional
banking groups are refocusing their energies towards meeting the demands of an
ever growing affluence.
For the prospective first time customer, his bank’s interface should
perhaps, have the protean aptitude of a whiz kid and the soothing empathy of a
mother hen. With that show of commitment, he is rest assured that his money is
A cursory look at Nigerian banking system and statistics has shown that
retail banking has a growth projection of more than 15% per annum.
This annual growth rate has meant an appreciable increase in the number of
deposit account holders. The strides made in consumer banking largely reflect
the visible acceleration in economic activities, but this has been hinged on
prudent management of economic policies geared towards a thriving private
sector. Against the backdrop of recent banking sector reforms, innovative
banking service has taken the driving seat with a studiously built bottom-up
strategy to sustain their operations.
Ironically, some of the unbanked would rather stick to co-operative
societies and such credit unions hoping that these guarantee safety for their
money. But the credit unions in turn need the banks when their operations
expand and their horizons broaden.  If properly guided and tutored, the
unbanked are introduced to the realities and unending prospects of deploying
banking services at their convenience.  In United Bank for Africa,
customers  have a wide  array of  products and services such
as  debit and pre-paid cards, savings accounts, U- Direct, U-mobile
services, etc, to make banking so easy and accessible.
Currently, banks are throwing up new initiatives that would bring in
more customers into the sector with a sustained sense of confidence and trust.
Countries like Kenya have deployed mobile banking technology (mobile money) to
attract the low income earners and the unbanked. More than 70 per cent of its
citizens have keyed into this mobile banking model.
The current economic trend reflects robust economic growth that would in
turn generate and widen opportunities for innovative technology and enhanced
financial services. As Africa’s global bank, UBA has pitched its tent in a
continent that delivers on its potential and from all intents and purpose this
is the best place to be.



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