Analysis: Will Wema Bank’s Alat Succeed?

Nairametrics| Wema Bank, a tier 2 lender has quietly launched Nigeria’s first digital bank, AlatAlat is built to run without needing physical presence at a bank. Admirable as this effort is, the bank may end up being the pioneer, without reaping the benefits. With its current set up, possibilities of the bank succeeding are quite slim.

Access to its services are through the app and website, both of which require access to the internet. While Nigeria has a higher internet penetration than many countries in Africa at 53%, internet services in the Nigeria are quite poor. A significant amount of the population still relies basic phones. Some of the most successful mobile banking products currently in the country, rely on USSD banking to counter these challenges. There are no provisions like this in the app, perhaps not to cannibalize existing customers of its parent Wema Bank.

Alat also requires that a Bank Verification Number (BVN) is provided before a bank account can be open. This means that only individuals who have a BVN will be able to open an account. Such individuals may be unwilling to move from their current banks. The BVN requirement will thus prevent individuals without a BVN from banking with Alat.

Documents required for opening a bank account include a photo of a federal ID, a utility bill and a passport photograph. This also requires one having internet access and a camera phone.

Funding an Alat account requires either a direct deposit at any Wema Bank branch, or transfer with another bank’s debit card. This again means one must visit the bank, or use debit cards of another bank to fund the account. Wema bank being a tier two bank and just regaining a national banking license a few years ago, has a limited branch spread.

The bank will need to generate interests for shareholders. The bank has promised depositors 10% subject to terms and conditions. While better than the 3% offered by banks, it is lower than the current inflation rate of almost 18%.   To do this it would have to ramp up deposit mobilization and lending loans.  SunTrust Bank, Nigeria’s first fully financial technology (Fintech) bank, in 2016 its first full year of operations made gross earnings of N1.3 billion and a profit before tax of N343 million. It is yet unclear if Wema bank has plans to spin off the bank in the future, or retain 100% ownership.



What others say about : Analysis: Will Wema Bank’s Alat Succeed?..


There are over ninety-one million internet users in Nigeria and majority access the net via Smartphones. Check the NCC database.

In Nigeria banking system these days, you can do almost nothing without having a BVN including withdrawals.

Finally, I can’t remember when last I went to the park to get a taxi when I’ve got Uber. If Alat can provide me the option of banking without going to the banking hall, then that’s a welcomed development that I’ll implore you and other Nigerians to embrace.


I can’t remember the last time I went to the park to board a taxi when I’ve got Uber. If Alat can take away the frustration accompanied with going to the banking hall, then I’ll jump on it. I encourage you to do same.


I can’t remember the last time I went to the park to board a taxi when I’ve got Uber. If Alat can take away the frustration accompanied with going to the banking hall, then I’ll jump on it. I encourage you to do same.

Ejiofor Chidinma Peace

Rome wasn’t built in a day, perhaps ALAT is the first mobile digital bank in Nigeria. We shouldn’t always expect to start up projects perfectly. Perfection is built… It’s a gradual process. As for me, i’m cool with mobile banking and i’ll keep moving…


The world as we know is changing and technology is at center of this change. Almost every sphere of human endeavor is gradually being pulled into it and i believe banking should not be left out. Thumbs up to ALAT for this innovative feat.


You focus on Wema being a tier 2 bank, but innovation has to come from somewhere. You say access to alat is restricted to the app and website, meaning you need the internet, but how else can it be digital. 10% interest is something you can’t get in Nigeria so that’s reason for it to succeed. And in trying to say why it might fail you forget to say that the atm card will be delivered to you so you don’t have to get to a bank. It’s a good plan,I think Nigeria needs it.

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