Wema Bank launches ALAT to kickstart its digital transformation

Ademola Adebise and Moruf Oseni explain how the fully digital ALAT is the client-facing vanguard of Wema Bank's internal digitisation

April 10, 2018

ALAT is Nigeria’s first fully digital bank, built from the ground up to provide a branchless customer experience. It’s the child of Wema Bank, which has been aggressively expanding its digital services in recent years. Ademola Adebise and Moruf Oseni from Wema Bank discuss ALAT’s success, its products and incentives, and the further digitisation strategy that is in the bank’s future.

World Finance: ALAT is Nigeria’s first fully digital bank, built from the ground up to provide a branchless customer experience. It’s the child of Wema Bank, which has been aggressively expanding its digital services in recent years. Ademola Adebise and Moruf Oseni from Wema Bank join me now.

How successful has ALAT been, and what’s the potential for a fully digital bank in Africa?

Ademola Adebise: It’s been an exciting journey for us. In the last nine months we’ve on-boarded about 200,000 customers, with a deposit balance of about NGN 1.3bn. And on a monthly basis we do transactional volumes of about NGN 15bn.

In the next three years our target basically is to on-board 2.5 million customers, with a deposit balance of NGN 100bn.

And in terms of Africa; Africa has a very youthful demography. And if you look at 2016 and 2017, the growth of sales in mobile phones was about 47 percent. Internet penetration is just about 29 percent, which shows that there’s an opportunity for a fully digital bank to thrive.

World Finance: What’s Wema Bank’s digitisation strategy?

Ademola Adebise: Our strategy is premised on leveraging existing and emerging technologies to provide compelling products and services for our customers. The focus is really meeting our customers’ lifestyle needs.

Our service vision is around simplicity, reliability, and convenience. We believe that with ALAT, a lot of things will happen: we’ll begin to look at strategic insights, data analytics, agile and best in class technologies to provide a world class service.

World Finance: Moruf, what do you currently offer digitally, and what other products are in the pipeline?

Moruf Oseni: First of all we have full account opening in five minutes or less, without getting into any branch. You can fund from any bank account and any bank card, internationally and locally.

We also allow free cards, which can be delivered to anywhere in the country. There’s also something called in-app debit card activation. We have instant loans, group and individual savings with 10 percent interest rates. We have a 24 hour contact centre. So we have a whole gamut of things we’ve digitised in the first phase.

Now, going forward, there are quite a number of things we want to introduce, based on customer feedback. The first is our personal financial planner. We have artificial intelligence and virtual assistance. We’re coming out with something we call iconographic gamification. We’re going to also have something we call ALAT Plus, which will speak to our current account and our corporate account. And we’ll also do international remittances.

Our plan at the end of the day is not only to digitise our customer journeys; the idea is to digitise the operations of the bank end to end; from trade services to operations to treasury. We intend to digitise the bank across the board, and we intend to be the one-stop digital bank in Nigeria.

Ademola Adebise: In addition to the features that Moruf already stated, we also intend to ensure that we improve on customer engagement, to ensure that we know exactly what they really want.

We continue to build on our partnerships, so that we can meet the needs of our customers. And lastly, we build the back-office systems, to make sure that we can meet the growing demands of our customers.

World Finance: And how are you incentivising customers to go digital?

Moruf Oseni: We’re passing on a lot of cost benefits to gravitate them towards the platform. Also we’re educating them on the advantage of having a digital bank, instead of a traditional bank: you can sit in the comfort of your home and do everything you want to do.

Also with a digital bank we’re mapping into their lifestyle. So, basically the idea is to meet them at their every point of convenience; whatever they need, we’ll be there. That’s the idea.

World Finance: And finally, what’s Wema Bank’s vision for banking in Nigeria?

Ademola Adebise: We believe that banking is changing; moving from the brick-and-mortar to digital. The landscape is changing pretty fast, and for us, we want to be the leading digital bank in Africa, providing very innovative financial services to our customers.

We believe that providing this in a very easy, convenient, and reliable way – and of course, more cost-effective – we will be able to create shareholder value for our stakeholders in the bank.

World Finance: Ademola, Moruf, thank you very much.

Ademola Adebise: Thank you.

Moruf Oseni: Thank you.

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