Every quarter, Nairametrics reviews some of the banking sector mobile apps available for downloads at your favorite app stores with the aim of giving you the top 5 banking apps. The mobile banking space is taking shape in Nigeria and is reminiscent of the craze for branch expansion experienced in the mid 2000’s. In place of brick and mortar is mobile banking and apps are in the fore front of this latest initiative to increase financial inclusion.
In this latest review, we look at a list of 7 mobile banking apps that have been released and compare features available for customers to explore. We also take a look at what some of their users have to say about the apps before winding down with our top banking app for the quarter.
UBA’s app is one of a kind; a very innovative, well-rounded application for its users. Not only does it care for online demands, the application is somewhat useful offline as well, specifically with providing short codes and answering basic questions on the application’s uses.
The most innovative aspect of the application is the automatic synchronization (syncing) with your device’s security system. This is more evident with the finger print function where the application simply adopts the device’s configuration and all you have to do is enable the finger print function.
Another area where the app’s syncing with the device is very useful is when you try purchasing airtime. Unlike other apps where you have to copy the phone number, the UBA app grants you access to your contact list from INSIDE the app. Considering that airtime recharges are one of the most common transactions on banking apps, UBA’s app should score them several points for this sync.
A last syncing function we must mention is that , you do not have to worry about leaving the app to get your One-Time Passwords (OTPs). The app does it automatically for you. Brilliant, isn’t it?
You can also use the application to run multiple accounts and the payment gateway encompasses pretty much a wide range of payment options ranging from major domestic utilities to some private universities, the Chinese embassy and a number of associations including the Red Cross. (Perhaps a shortcoming will be that in-hall banking services only have to do with cheques and not cards.)
Despite these unique attributes, the app does not seem popular among its customers. It has received only 500,000+ downloads on the Android PlayStore, which is the lowest range among this edition’s participants. But, among those who have the app, it is rated fairly high at an average of 4.0 out of 5.0. This is the second lowest rating among the 5 apps reviewed in this article.
A critical look at the comments will show that majority of the 5-star ratings are without comments. (Could these ratings be from users who simply want to be left alone by Google?)
At the other end of the scale, most of the 1-star ratings revolve around problems with the recent updates. Complaints range from inability to sync their former details to mal-functioning, and in some cases, non-functioning of key features of the app.
Sample 5-star comment: “The app is very good. Why are people complaining? As far as I am concern[ed], the app is ok” Taofeeq Hassan
Sample 1-star comment: “Was loving this app till this recent upgrade. Please revert to the old version before I lose my mind. I can’t even use account and if I manage to, I can’t use the favorite list or otp…Same prompt… ‘unsuccessful’! [What’s the matter?]” EmeEdim.
Due to its relatively easy set-up, this app will successfully run for Customers’ Favourite. Also, the beauty of its User Interface (UI) easily sets it apart from other contestants in this edition ; with soft, inviting hues, the app is pleasant look at.
Navigation is as simple as it gets with minimal clicks required to carry out common transactions like transferring funds or recharging airtime.
However, the Personal Identification Number (PIN) for logging in is different from that for transactions ; an innovation meant to improve the safety of using the app.
The most innovative thing about the app is the inclusion of the Quick Response (QR) payment option. This will be a favorite for people who love to shop but do not like to move around with their purses.
Perhaps the only discouraging feature is the presence of adverts on the app. Although the ads are tailored to First Bank’s products and can be disabled, it remains a controversial inclusion that will have users divided. For some, it is one thing to receive mails and texts on your banks products and services all the time and another to have them on the app still.
As predicted earlier, the app is a favorite with over a million downloads on Play Store alone and an average rating of 4.3 among users,; a high point in this edition. With over 11,000 reviews- the most reviews of the 5 apps compared today- the fact that the bank has over7,700 giving 5-stars should be a testament to the functionality of the app.
An in-depth review of the comments show that we have more insightful 5-star comments, with customers specifying exactly what they love about the app. For many, the QR payment inclusion is it while for others, it is the seamless functionality.
However, complaints exist and many are related to the inability to login to the updated version and issues with beneficiary lists.
One particularly disturbing comment observed was a complaint that it is possible to login to the same account on several devices at once. Security-wise, this is a no-no, considering that Nigerians lose or sell their phones rather frequently. If true, this is something that the bank needs to look at.
Sample 5-star comment: “The recent update is a lot better and more reliable. For now, I think it’s the best mobile banking app I have used so far though there is still room for more improvements. Keep up the good works.”
Sample 1-star comment: “Inaccurate app. When you transfer money once, in a few minutes you discover that the [app] has transfer 2 or 3 times”
As an opening note, the process of registration is really tedious. The bank may have overstepped the borders in its attempt at ensuring security. Having to enter the eighth digit on your debit card in a tab then moving on to five more tabs asking for other random numbers on the customer’s debit card is excruciating.
The amount of time spent on registration alone could be used to activate the USSD function and perform about three transactions ;this could be a major turn-off for the average customer.
One very convenient thing though, is that you can purchase airtime without even logging in..
GTB has always been known as a bank with an eye on the youth market segment and this reflects on their app; as much as you can use the app to pay for bills, there is the addition of opportunities to indulge in social activities like paying for cinema tickets and the likes, which is a major plus for millennials. .
The unusually bright Graphical User Interface (GUI) may be appealing to some, but could also be very distracting- and odd- to others.
With over one million downloads, this is another popular app. This is really not unexpected with the high number of new generation customers the bank has. The app received an average 4.1 rating among the reviews, which is the mid-point rating among this edition’s contestants.
General concerns relate to registration process, which many users claim is long, tedious and in many cases,simply does not work. Another common concern was that OTPs hardly work on the app despite being entered within the stipulated time frame.
Fans of the app love its ease of use ., while some still think the use of tokens makes the app very secure.
In all, for almost 7,700 users from about 14,000 to give the app 5-star ratings indicates that the app is quite useful and should be worth a try despite the issues mentioned.
Sample 5-star comment: “I take my bank to any and every where”
Sample 1-star comment: “It’s been forever waiting for sms secure code to get to my mail. Also used other provided alternative. Awful”
It would appear that the bitter-sweet relationship this bank has with its customers extends to the app. Although the app gets the job done, it is fraught with too many technical glitches. Some days, connecting to the bank’s server can be easy and other days, it becomes a serious chore.
The app has also been upgraded to allow the fingerprint security feature but this remains a cause of headache to several users who claim it does not work smoothly.
Undoubtedly, the app eliminates a whole lot of unnecessary questions and on a very good day, transactions are very fast. The most innovative aspect of this app would be the transaction receipts which are usually produced at the end of every transaction.
Another great feature to note is the inclusion of having a live chat with a customer service representative of the bank via the app. This eliminates the hassle of eithercalling, mailing, texting or tweeting at the bank on social media (Twitter).
Another app in the 500,000+ range on Android Play Store, the Access Bank app is also, not your most popular app. It however scores a 4.2 rating from a little over 6,000 reviews, which could indicate that it is deemed satisfactory by the majority of users.
A critical look into comments made does little to show exactly what strengths and weaknesses the app has. Almost every feature of the app had a few reviews complaining about it, from logging in to making transfers and getting your transaction history. While some 5-star reviews still have comments suggesting the app needs certain fixes, others are satisfied with its performance. Those who rated the app poorly go on to make their complaints.
While it is typical in the Nigerian setting not to be praised for doing well but be scolded for a few glitches, the variety of complaints should be worrying to the bank. Another weak point is the bank’s seeming reluctance to engage with reviewers on the Play Store. Hardly was any comment replied to by the bank’s staff.
Sample 5-star comment: “Very very cool app but it doesn’t store up transactions history which is very bad [.] Apart from this, I think the app is quite cool”
Sample 1-star comment: “It’s easier to pass a camel through the needle than to login to this app”
The simplicity of this bank’s interface says a lot. It makes the app easy to use and straight to the point. It is easy to register except when it comes to internet banking users who require a hardware token and internet banking pin. This actually may be excessive because the idea of having an application is to put your bank in your pocket. However, security wise, it is quite appropriate.
Perhaps, the most innovative feature of this app is the saved recurrent expenditure. This simply means that it is possible to program some recurrent expenditure and the application would automatically authorize the transaction when the time comes. This would probably be very useful for payment of monthly utility bills and other usual bills that a user pays at a given period of time which is fixed and continuous.
For a bank as popular as Zenith Bank, one would have thought it would have little issues crossing the 1 million downloads mark. Still, as at the time of writing this article it had not. Whether this is due to the customer makeup of the bank, the bank’s publicity strategy or the app’s performance, no one can readily say. What we can say is that, among the less than 6,000 reviews of the app on Play Store, the app gets an average rating of 4.3, a high point among this edition’s participants.
Another strong point is the interaction of the bank with its reviewers. They were ready to sort out problems and replies were not stereotypical copy and paste, but rather tailored to individual comments.
A common complaint though was the inability of users to confirm beneficiary details for funds transfers. However, some other reviewers were quick to shoot this down as untrue.
Sample 5-star comment: “This app is simply spectacular. Zenith bank all day everyday. Network caused a transfer to pend but the money was refunded to me within 2 hours. If [that] isn’t fab service I don’t know what is. Thanks Zenith”
Sample 1-star comment: “Sucks. Terrible just terrible…why do I need to transfer before I can load airtime”
Diamond Bank’s mobile app is another top quality mobile application that boasts of several innovative features. The snap overview of transactions available in the ‘Trends’ section of the app which, using bar charts summarizes income and expenditure levels for the past 3 months is an example. Another attraction to the app is its attractive Graphical User Interface (GUI).
Also, the app enables users to carry out certain extra actions such as buy movie tickets while its new Quick Response payment option (mVisa) will make this app a must-have for trendy customers who do not appreciate the constraints of carrying wallets.
As is now becoming an expectation from all bank apps, the Diamond Mobile also generates instant transfer receipts which is sent via mail to the user. The self-service provides more options than many other bank apps such as the ability to adjust your transfer limits.
A limitation of the Diamond Mobile is its rather frequent service interruptions which can be very frustrating when emergency transactions are stalled.
Diamond Bank is considered a new generation bank for the young, trendy and hip. NO surprises that it easily crosses the 1 million downloads bar on Google Play store. The app had almost 13,000 reviews, the highest among this edition’s participants. The average rating is a 4.1 which is ranked as the mid-point rating among this edition’s apps.
A deep dive into the comments show that majority of the unsatisfied customers are complaining about the frequent service interruptions which got them stuck in unwanted situations.
Another popular problem was malfunctioning of the app upon the most recent update.
A feature customers cannot wait to get on the app is the biometric authentication which is the rave of the moment.
As usual, the 5-star comments are filled with one-word comments like smart, great, cool etc. which in no way explain what they love about the app.
A bad habit noticed in the comments section was a lack of response from Diamond Bank customer service staff to the issues raised by their customers.
Sample 5-star comment: “It’s quick, fast and easy to use”
Sample 1-star comment: “The most unreliable app I have ever seen. Very very POOR”
This app came rather later than all the other bank apps. For a bank of this stature, one would wonder why this is so. The most important feature of this app is its ability to synchronize itself with phone’s data.; it is able to access your contact list, short messaging features and other information that may be considered sensitive. It appears the application may, through your phone dialing features, make direct phone calls to customer care.
A note of importance about this app is that you can actually use it to open an account. Although not a full-fledged savings or current account, it is of the nature of a mobile account to sort day to day expenses and bills. The application also caters for Visacard transactions which owing to the international nature of the bank, is a no brainer.
Is it really surprising that the app has just 500,000+ downloads? Not really considering that the bank is not the most popular one in the country. With about 6,200 reviews, customers are not happy with the performance of the app; it scores an average rating of 3.9, the lowest among the apps in this article.
An irritating aspect of the app, especially to data-thrifty Nigerians, is the heavy size (72 MB+) which many will consider excessive.
A common complaint relates to the non-functioning of what was supposed to be one of the app’s greatest appeals- the ability to use other banks’ cards on it.
Another common problem noted were invalid activation codes during signup.
Most of the thumbs-ups the app received were for the normal transactions such as transfers, loading airtime etc. A couple of foreigners using the app give it rave reviews in comparison to other banks in their countries.
Another impressive aspect is that the bank takes time to give personalized responses given to the comments, which in this age of customer-centric service, can only get them into the good books of their customers.
Sample 5-star comment: “Better interface….Good careless cashout at ECOBANK ATMs. Waiting patiently for interpolarity among Nigerian banks”
Sample 1-star comment: “This software doesn’t logout even when you click logout. It only closes the app instead of [logging] out from the software. This is a very high vulnerability”
Based on the above, here our top 5 mobile banking apps for this quarter. Criteria used include usr reviews, overall rating, popularity determined by number of downloads and overall ‘feel’ of the app
4th runner-up: GTB
3rd runner-up: UBA
2nd runner-up: Diamond Mobile
Second place: Zenith Bank
Best app: First Bank
COVID -19 saving Nigerians millions in wedding and burial costs
As long as the pandemic persists, the ‘new normal’ is for ceremonies to remain subdued.
It was a sunny Saturday in May and like it had been for the better part of 8 weeks, the new normal was in force in Nosa’s household. The lockdown induced COVID-19 meant that all the hustle and bustle of giving attention to side hustles on weekends had all evaporated. Now he spent more time with his kids watching TV and playing video games. Whilst he has had to endure multiple weekends of lost revenue, staying indoors meant that his personal finance was still intact. But things would change dramatically this weekend.
Nosa got a call that he had just lost his aged mother to a brief illness. He had been battling with a terminal illness for years, but things seemed to be under control so her death came as a surprise. Even as he grappled with the thought of losing his mother, Nosa knew that he had to start making preparations for the expenses that are bound to come with burials in an African setting.
Thanks to the pandemic, and rules that came with it, Nosa ended up spending much less than he would have for his mother’s burial with most of the funds going towards mortuary expenses, transport and the direct cost of the actual burial itself.
READ ALSO: Post COVID-19: The Challenges Ahead
“This COVID-19 is bad but it has saved me millions of naira that I would have spent in this burial,” he remarked.
“I wanted to give my mom a befitting burial but these are hard times and I may have borrowed money just to fund this. But with COVID-19 and social distancing in place I did not have to do any of this,” Nosa informs our reporter.
Nosa’s gains translate to massive losses for a whole chain of service providers in the event management industry. Similar occurrences over the last few months have resulted in the loss of revenue for such businesses.
Events in Nigeria often cost anywhere between half a million naira to over N100 million depending on the financial muscle of those spending. Burials, weddings, naming ceremonies and birthday parties, make a burgeoning industry that spans several sectors of the economy.
From mortuaries to casket makers, event planners, event Halls rentals, professional mourners, caterers, confectionaries, party rentals, photographers, video editors, tailors, newspapers , etc, its an entire value chain of businesses that provide one service or the other for this industry.
Each of these events cost millions of naira to organize hosting as many people as the budget can support. According to a CNN article quoting a report from TNS Global, Nigerians spend as much as $9,460 for a wedding ceremony. The report also indicates the party industry could be worth as high as $17 million based on statistics in 2017.
The math can be easily deducted. Assuming 50,000 ceremonies every weekend at an average cost of N1 million that is a N50 billion per weekend or N2.7 trillion ($6.75 billion) per annum. GDP data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicates sectors that support the ceremonies market in Nigeria, telecoms, transportation, Arts and Entertainment is worth a combined N18.4 trillion.
Chuks, a Partner at a top consulting firm in Nigeria admits were it not for the pandemic his wedding could have cost him about N15 million personally and another N20 million spent by family, friends, colleagues and well-wishers. He is in his forties and his wedding had been much anticipated. He went ahead with his wedding last weekend with less than a dozen people in attendance and over 140 others logging on via Zoom. He claims while he ended up not spending millions on food, drinks, wedding halls and other logistic costs, he still achieved his goal of getting married.
Necessity they say is the mother of invention and has millions stay locked in their homes, they have resorted to apps such as Zoom, Instagram Live, Microsoft Teams to hold virtual events. These days Zoom themed parties now have their own rules and conventions. Friends from all parts of the world log in with each person taking turns to say nice things about the celebrants. Games are conducted to spice up the event and stories told by the celebrant. Music is also played by the Zoom host with participants dancing and having fun.
“It is like watching a live movie and also being part of it as the audience and participant” a wedding planner informed Nairametrics. Whilst one cannot underrate the connection physical socializing brings, virtual meetings are gradually becoming a lifestyle and the longer social distancing continues its cultural significance will only continue to increase.
Aderonke Adebamibola, CEO of Unik Ushering Agency, an Event management firm, confirmed to Nairametrics that business has really slowed down in the last few months. “Even though the NCDC has now given rules to guide weddings and other events, the budget now is way less than it used to be due to the cap on numbers of guests” she explained.
Now, most events are kept within the premises of family residences, depriving hall rentals, the money they could have made from leasing out their halls. Venue decorators also have much less on their hands to do, as they no longer have to decorate big halls.
According to Adebamibola, every single business in the chain has been affected, from caterers to ushers.
“Now, we even have to convince them to use one or two ushers for their events because they believe they don’t need ushers for 20 or 30 guests. Caterers cannot even cook a half bag of rice now because of the number of guests. This means that they are also paid less for their services, even if they expend the same energy and time” she said.
The new normal in this industry means that the things that used to be prioritized are no longer priorities. Hand sanitisers, face masks and hand washing equipment are now compulsories in events, while the hand-shaking, and hugs that would have characterized such weddings.
Due to the nature of the industry, a large percentage of the staff are kept on contract basis, so the reduction has not really translated into lay-offs. However, the industry revenue has been badly hit. A contract staff with NPU Events, who preferred anonymity, noted that in the last three months, she has only been called twice for events.
Since this forms a major part of her income, it has caused a major dip in her resources. COVID-19 has brought unwanted hardship to the Nigerian economy with small businesses and workers in the informal sector suffering the most.
A recent World Bank report indicates the Nigerian economy might contract by as much as 3% in GDP growth rate this year. This informed government’s latest decision to inject about N2.3 trillion into the economy to spur economic growth. The funds will be targeted at small businesses through non-collateralized low-interest loans. Whilst all these initiatives are geared towards stimulating the economy, the spending power of Nigerians will remain pivotal and as long as the pandemic persists, ceremonies will remain subdued.
BHH Podcast: What 2020 holds for SMEs (2) – Ugodre
Business Half Hour (BHH) is a weekly podcast targeted at Startups and Entrepreneurs, who are redefining the Nigerian business scene through innovation.
Business Half Hour (BHH) is a weekly podcast targeted at Startups and Entrepreneurs, who are redefining the Nigerian business scene through innovation.
In this episode of #BHH, Ugodre gave an insight into how business climate would be for SMEs and an overall outlook on the global and national economy. Enjoy!
Ikeja Electric, GRA Ikeja residents sign contract to deliver 20 hours daily power supply
Ikeja Electric (IE) announced it has signed a Power Purchase Agreement with residents of Ikeja GRA to deliver “up to 24 hours of supply daily”. The company tweeted this on Friday revealing that it is in line with the company’s Bilateral Power Agreement.
However, the company representatives explain that it is a minimum of 20 hours of power supply for residents of the association. Ikeja GRA includes streets like Oduduwa, Isaac John, Joel Ogunaike, Fani Kayode, etc.
Ikeja Electric signs bilateral Power Agreement with Ikeja GRA.
…Residents to enjoy up to 24 hours of supply daily. pic.twitter.com/13ue5K1wqw
— Ikeja Electric (@IkejaElectric) October 11, 2019
In its previous Power Purchase deal with Magodo Residents, it stated that “with the agreement, IE will provide the residents with electricity supply beyond the existing standards, with guaranteed performance levels. In addition, there will also be access to dedicated Customer Care and Technical teams for prompt resolution of queries and/or technical issues within the estate.”
Also, the Chief Operating Officer, IE, Mrs. Folake Soetan expressed confidence in the success of the trend-setting agreement, which she noted was in line with the Federal Government’s willing seller, willing buyer policy.
What this means: The Power Purchase Agreement suggests residents of the Ikeja GRA will enjoy a steady power supply when compared to non-residents. However, they will have to pay tariffs much higher than is provided for in MYTO. Residents in Magodo who currently enjoy a similar arrangement informed Nairametrics that they pay higher tariffs but have enjoyed regular power supply and often go days without a power cut.
They also explain that even when the power cuts they get messages from Ikeja Electric explaining why the power was cut and indicating when it will return. We understand Ikeja Electric still relies on the grid to deliver this power as such power cuts will still be expected in the transmission and distribution end.
Backstory: In August, Ikeja Electric announced it signed a similar power purchase agreement with residents of Magodo, providing them a power supply of up to 20 hours daily. Residents of Magodo, have enjoyed steady power since then and are thought to be paying about N47 per kilowatt-hour of power compared to the MYTO tariff which is N23.10 for residential customers.
Sources with knowledge of the transaction indicate Ikeja Electric is likely to extend this arrangement to other estates within Lagos, in a move that disrupts the power sector dynamics. Residents in the Eko Franchise area seeking regular power supply have also demanded a similar deal and are ready to pay for a tariff that is higher than the MYTO approved tariff for general customers.
It is however not clear if the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC has approved this arrangement.