ALAT: Nigeria’s Premier Digital Bank
By Abutu Agada
When Mr. Gboyega Moronfoye sent his teenage, Deji on a busy weekend to withdraw some cash from the ATM, little did he expect any form of drama to result from that simple errand.
Deji however got into a conversation with a fraudster at the bank and that began a series of dramas. The fraudster was able to secure Deji’s trust, his father’s ATM card, the PIN to the card and his phone after bamboozling the young chap with some supposed supernatural tricks. After a while, the fraudster gave him some money to scout for solid salt to be used in praying for him.
Fortunately, a gullible Deji was ‘rescued’ by his father while wandering around looking for the salt. The father had tried calling his son to no avail and decided to look for him at the bank. A slap or two from his father brought out the story from a confused Deji. Both rushed back to the bank only to realise that the fraudster had vanished into the thin air.
Efforts by Mr. Gboyega to reach his bank met with initial network resistance. By the time he was able to get through to his bank and ask for the blocking of his debit card, valuable time had been lost. A transfer alert from his bank of 150 thousand naira entered his phone. At that moment, Mr. Gboyega wished he had had the power to literally reach into his account and deactivate his card by himself.
This unfortunate scenario is what plays on a daily basis as many people misplace their ATM cards, get disposed of it and get coerced to reveal their PINs or deceived like Deji. Unfortunately however, many are not able to easily get their cards deactivated before their hard earned monies are withdrawn.
Wema Bank Nigeria Plc has however come out with a solution to this and many other challenges faced by people with the launch of its innovative ALAT bank. ALAT is the first fully functional digital bank in Nigeria, West Africa and to some extent, Africa.
Being a fully digital bank, ALAT is however not a mobile app. It is a mile apart from typical banking apps as it comes with so many firsts. For instance, having being built from scratch to be entirely digital, it is the first bank and only bank-for now- that enables a customer carry out banking transactions without being physically present at a bank and completely obliterating any form of human interference or interaction. It also provides banking services anywhere the internet can be accessed, making it appealing to the large percentage of people with aversion to banking halls.
A banking app however, is just an app offering some banking services, not a full digital experience. With a banking app, one will still need to visit the bank to get a debit card and activate it, request account statement, submit documents and often, to get basic customer support.
The launch of the new digital bank signifies the beginning of a revolution in the banking industry; one where the needs of customers are met using technology to provide cheaper, faster and better services. This is in tandem with the bank’s understanding of the times, how technology has changed the way businesses operate and the current digital realities. This is also in line with the fact that customers are increasingly adopting digital options for their banking needs, leading to a reduction in the number of people that visit physical banks.
Managing Director of Wema Bank, Segun Oloketuyi, throws more light on this during the unveiling of ALAT. According to him, the launch was in line with the bank’s commitment to satisfying its present and prospective customers by offering them an optimal banking experience through innovative digital technology. It is also a calculated attempt that targets growing its customer base from 1.5 million to 3 million, and revenue from the present N54.25 billion to N200 billion by 2020.
“ALAT is the bank for the future and it redefines the seamless relationship we have with our customers. This is an offering to the young professionals, entrepreneurs and students who are tech savvy and always on the move. It is an opportunity to integrate banking into their lifestyle without hassles, by offering them real value, as they desire,” he said.
An ALAT account can easily be opened on a mobile by installing ALAT from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, open the app and signed up with Bank Verification Number and a valid phone number.
ALAT goes further to incorporate some Wema Bank theme for instance, the card control application. This feature gives ALAT account holders the power to activate or deactivate their debit card as desired from the comfort of their phones. If like Deji, one loses his debit card, unlike normal bank debit cards where it requires one to visit the bank to deactivate it rather; one can simply do it via phone.
Asides these, the digital platform also gives it holds cool Do-It-Yourself features that allows them change PIN, update personal information and upload documents with the phone’s camera, no help needed.
ALAT also gives its account holders the latitude to decide the location where their cards will function if for instance, such an account holder wants to travel to Ghana, he can deactivate his debit card in Nigeria and activate it in Ghana.
Furthermore, the account holder can decide that his ALAT debit card works only on POS and not on ATM and vice versa.
Supported on iOS and android devices, one doesn’t necessarily need a computer device to use the digital banking platform. Anybody with a smart phone can fulfil transactions from the sanctuary of their homes. ALAT saves time with a simple account opening process that takes less than five minutes, help in putting money away easily by automating saving and making sure bills are paid on time with its scheduled payments feature.
The digital platform offers a savings plan with an unrivalled 10% annual interest – three times the standard bank rate, an interest rate that is closer to monetary rate! This is in consonance with Wema Bank’s objective of making saving as easy as spending. Through ALAT’s Goals, an innovative initiative, customers are able to set up budget, save for a special project or just look for a rewarding investment plan.
Unlike other banks where one has to visit a branch to get his debit card delivered, account holders of ALAT can choose one of three designs and simply get it delivered to them at the comfort of their home no matter the location. Also, unlike what is obtainable with other debit cards that have to be activated at an ATM or within a bank, the ALAT debit card can be activated on the phone.
Interestingly, ALAT operate a 24 hours customer service system that can be reached via email, phone or social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).