The UBA LEO chat banking bot was officially launched in January 2018. There was a huge uproar in the ‘tech’ world and lots of people received the news with amusement and underlying curiosity; at least, I did.
Basically, the Leo chat banking bot, alternatively called the ‘chat Banker’, is virtually represented by a competent looking male animated figure in its Facebook page. It is said to have multiple features for helping set up new bank accounts, funds transfer, mobile airtime top-up, providing mini bank statements, freezing accounts, paying bills, and generally making the banking experience easy for customers or anyone interested in trying out the service without assistance.
The Leo Chat Banker AI (Artificial Intelligence) was created in conjunction with Facebook, to work on the Facebook Chat messenger platform. Right now, to access this service, one would need to own a valid Facebook account.
To be able to engage the Leo Chat Banker, you have to be a UBA customer. If you are not, you would have to create an account. I was not banking with UBA at the time of my first encounter with Leo, so I would be relating my starter experience somewhat with the trail of my user experience of the services, and Leo’s responses to them since its launch in January.
Once you are on the Leo Chat Banker page on Facebook, you will be prompted to click a link where Leo immediately recognizes you via your Facebook account name and welcomes you to the page and banking chat.
This point is straightforward. You are asked what service you want, and when you indicate, to go further, you are asked if you own a UBA account. If no, then the next step is to make the choice of selecting the icon for ‘create new account’.
Leo helps you achieve this by providing you with a series of pointed questions/requirements. You are asked for your BVN; there is also a choice for people who do not already own a BVN.
I was able to provide my BVN but there is a snag for those who do not remember their BVNs as that would be where the process ends for them. Your phone number is requested (although the number which you registered with your BVN is then suggested to you).
There is a chance that your BVN registered phone number might not be same as the one you can provide so I wonder, if your number is now different, what would be the case? That could be an issue right there.
An OTP (One Time Password) is provided for you via text to your phone number which you are asked to input to verify that the number is actually yours. You would also be required to provide your passport photograph, residential address and email address for correspondence and in a few seconds, you become a UBA account holder with the help of Leo.
Just about anyone with little ‘techy’ and internet know-how can achieve this easily. If you intend to stop there, then you could award Leo 5 stars in your review.
Up to that point, everything is really smooth. This new account can handle no more than a N50,000 transaction. If you need to increase the amount, you would have to take a trip to any UBA branch close to you and request an upgrade.
I have not felt the need to do that yet but I must note that I am yet to receive any formal welcome text or email from UBA on opening a new account with them. So what I have is the account number given to me by Leo.
Another feature Leo has is the customer service feature. As I type this, Leo has no inkling on how to assist you here, or connect you to a human agent as it suggests. Now why would this feature be added if there are no actual human agents or customer service staff on this end?
The wait is endless. I had to remind Leo that I was still waiting and he did not seem to understand me; he kept asking, “For what platform?” repeatedly. So there, we are stuck.
The airtime top-up works just fine. It is also very easy to pay bills using Leo. The feature for requesting a bank statement was not so easy and I doubt that it will be for the average customer who isn’t as tech savvy, as you have to get a user PIN, for which you are directed elsewhere via a link. I found it frustrating and distracting.
The UBA Leo Virtual Banker is a work in progress but right now, I am impressed. Granted, there are some upgrades which need to be done but for a start, it is good. I commend them. Thing though, not everyone owns a Facebook account as a lot of people are either closing down their accounts, or almost never visit Facebook anymore. Can there be other options please? I dare say it limits its accessibility.