We have largest number of customers on USSD platform – FBNH
First Bank of Nigeria Holding (FBNH) Plc said it has largest number of customers that are using Unstructured Supplementary Service Data platform to access its banking services.
The Group Managing Director, FBNH, Urum Kalu Eke, said this while reacting to analysts questions during the third quarter of financial year 2019 earnings call.
The recent disagreement between Telecommunication companies that provide USSD platform for banks customers would hurt financial inclusion of the Central Bank of Nigeria, analysts said.
Muyiwa Oni, SBG Securities Limited, Research Division – Heads of Equity Research for West Africa sought to know which channels drive more profitability between USSD and mobile banking.
In his reaction, the Eke said: “on the issue with USSD, mobile banking digital income, what I would say is, for us, the platforms are very important to us”.
“They are strategically important to us. Today, we have, by far, the largest number of customers on the USSD platform.
“We have about 8.5 million FirstBank customers actively transacting on our USSD platform. We have about 3 million people on our FirstMobile platform”, he added.
The GMD said: “these are very important platforms for us. Regarding the dispute with the telcos, we believe we’re going to find a landing that will work for all the parties. We are meeting. We’re having conversation, and we believe this will be resolved shortly.
In addition, the GMD said: “We’ve also been very deliberate around our agency banking. We currently have about 37,000 agents”.
On how FBNH is positioning for PSVs and the likely risk given the stronger income seeing on e-banking, Eke said when we show what we’ve done vis-à-vis question on the Payment System Vision (PSV) bank; we think we are well-positioned to keep and maintain our space.
However, we are also not completely averse to cooperation, he added.
Speaking further, the GMD said: “We do have very good relationships with all the telcos and we believe in the fullness of time, we will emerge with some sort of cooperation, as we built our business and we’re still building it up to maintain our market share”.
In a bid to inform bank customers of the new charge, telecommunication companies have sent notifications to customers using their platforms to access banking services.
MTN text message reads, “Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 second for USSD access to banking services. Thank you”.
The crack in the relationship between Telecommunication companies and deposits money banks would hurt both sides, but analysts are seeing beyond the immediate as it signal basis for future commercial competition along financial inclusion target.