Buoyed by the immense prospects of providing basic financial services through the mobile phones to millions of Nigerians in urban and rural communities, United Bank for Africa (UBA) has rolled out its mobile money service targeted at over 90 million mobile phone users.
Speaking at the launch ceremony held in Lagos at the weekend, Phillip Oduoza, group managing director, UBA, said the introduction of the service reaffirms the company’s commitment to the Central Bank of Nigeria ’s (CBN) policy geared towards moving Nigeria into the cashless economy.
Following the recent grant of licenses to mobile money service providers by the CBN, UBA in conjunction with its associate company; Afripay Limited, has become one of the first of the 11 licensees, to roll out commercially its mobile money service dubbed U-Mo in Lagos . U-Mo which is available to mobile phone subscribers, irrespective of which network that they are currently using, is strategically designed to promote savings as well as enable people to carry out financial transactions, including sending and receiving monies from their phones. It enables phone users to buying airtime for self and for others, pay bills, pay for goods and services in shops and on the internet as well.
With majority of Nigeria ’s adult population never been banked, and a meagre 30 percent of the adult population with a bank account, Oduoza argued that the pain still resides in the neck of banks to seek ways to foster financial inclusion and aid the unbanked. “We have over 80 million connected telephone lines while only 25 million Nigerians have bank account, leaving a major gap of about 55 million. U-Mo is going to address that by providing banking services to unbanked Nigerians. They can also transfer money to any mobile number, spend the money directly from their mobile phones to pay for goods and services.” According to the UBA GMD, level of required documentation is so low that the ‘mobile bank account’ can be opened in merely five minutes.
Oduoza pointed out that following the introduction of a minimum account balance of N25, 000 by the bank, customers whose accounts balances are below the minimum threshold will be migrating to the mobile money platform. U-Mo, according to him is being done through the various branch offices of UBA where the respective accounts are domiciled, in a simplified process, devoid of any hassles, providing customers with more convenience and access compared to brick and mortar based services.
Alluding to universality of the solution, irrespective of social and economic class, the GMD revealed that the bank had received $1 million grant from Elfina to develop a savings platform on the U-MO service with the value proposition for customers been an interest on their deposits.
The mobile money service, according to Oduoza is meant to enhance the CBN ‘Cash-lite’ banking initiative and reduce cost of banking operations in the country, adding that the whole essence is to store money in a telephone at a cheaper rate as well as send and receive funds from any part of the country.
“With this service, a subscriber does not have to have a bank account before performing banking and other financial services. “People can store money in their phones and use it to do business. This is a major step towards realising the ‘cash-lite’ initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria . Today, banking penetration still remains low. Yinka Adedeji, chief executive officer, Afripay, revealed that U-Mo provides higher level of security than cards, given that it only requires your four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) and possession of your mobile phone to perform any operation.
Adedeji said that U-Mo Mobile money is available to all mobile subscribers irrespective of their mobile service provider. He also said it can be used by people with or without bank accounts in UBA. Adedeji disclosed that in order to ensure that all customer segments are covered, a number of products have been introduced by Afri-Pay. These products include U-Mo Silver for customers with very little information. It allows them to spend or pay up to N3, 000.00 per transaction and up to N30, 000.00 per day. U-Mo Gold, for customers with contact information and details.
A U-Mo Gold customer is allowed to spend or pay up to N10, 000 per transaction and up to N100, 000.00 per day. U-Mo Platinum for the more sophisticated customers who are allowed to spend or pay up to N100, 000 per transaction and up to N1, 000,000 per day. To qualify for U-Mo Platinum, you have to provide detailed information including a verified address and a reference. U-Mo is available to UBA and non UBA customers. Adedeji stated that “customers with accounts in any bank are encouraged to sign up for U-Mo as they will be able to easily load money from their bank account into U-Mo and move money received on U-Mo account into their bank accounts. U-Mo now makes banking available for everyone, including traders, okada riders, transporters, casual workers, “he added.