They Laughed When We Started Building ALAT But Now…

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are mine and does not represent that of ALAT or Wema Bank PLC.

For about a year now, there has been this debate about the possibility of an app-only bank in Nigeria. Valid concerns were raised about its possibility in our peculiar Nigerian situation. The concerns were around lack of clean and consolidated data of all citizens, level of literacy, level of internet and smartphone penetration, level of technological adoption etc. Then there was the question of who will be the messiah. Who will create this app-only bank for us? Who will raise the torch and lead the line?

But there is nothing wrong with Nigeria, that cannot be cured by Nigerians. So, we at Wema Bank set out to go all out digital. Yes, there has never been a successful attempt in this clime. Yes, it was bold. And yes, it was risky.

But we tried, anyway.

The Need

Every innovator must set out to solve a specific problem. You don’t just innovate for innovation sake or because the word sounds cool. You innovate to create something useful or improve on something that’s already in existence.

In our attempt to build Nigeria’s first digital bank we were aiming to solve some specific problems not just to earn the title. The problems included but are not limited to:

  • The growing number of generation Y and Z who hate banking as we currently know it. They are digital natives who are spoilt by instant gratifications. They sign up to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the likes without visiting the respective offices of these companies. Why ask them to visit a bank to create an account?
  • The movement to all things digital. The world is becoming busier at a rate we cannot comprehend. Gone are the days when our parents mapped out a day or two to visit a bank branch as the only item on their to-do list.
  • The growing cost of doing this banking business. The cost of building physical structures is going up astronomically with less and less people willing to visit these structures. So, why build them?

The Journey So-far

Innovators suffer the “Course of Countless Iterations”. That was the fate of the team. There were no successful attempts to copy from. Like being the first person to gain admission into the university in your community. No one to ask for advice. No one to collect old textbooks from. You are practically starting from the scratch. But we embraced the challenge with dodged determination. Believing that impossible only takes a little longer.

The gestation was less than a year. And we have our new born baby, ALAT Digital Bank.

Say “Hello” to ALAT

ALAT is Nigeria’s First Fully Digital Bank which lets you…

  • Open a Fully Functional Standard Savings Account from start to perfection without stepping into any physical branch. In less than 5 minutes you have a standard savings account. That’s less than the time to empty a cup of coffee. It even lets you upload your document in-app.
  • Right there and then, you can fund your account using your debit card. Local or international. Yes, the “international” wasn’t in error.
  • Make a Choice of Debit Card. You can choose from 3 “crazy” debit card designs and you only get to fill in your delivery address. Before I forget, the card is free. Yes, you get to pay ZERO Naira. The delivery is also FREE. Yeah, we’re cool like that.
  • Activate Your New Debit Card in-app. Yes, you don’t have to visit any ATM or use the PoS (point of sale) machine to activate your card. Another first in the industry. Want to change your PIN? Do it in-app from the comfort of your bed
  • You can also control where and how your card is used. We call it Card Control. We let you decide if you want your card used on ATMs, PoS or for Web transactions. We also let you control where your card gets used by geography. So, you can decide if you want your card used in America, UAE or UK or any country of your choice. Again, another first in the industry.
  • Schedule Recurring Payments and go to sleep. We will handle it on your behalf. DsTV subscription, monthly transfer to “BAE”, airtime purchase, anything. Just schedule it and move on with more important things in your life.
  • Earn 10% on Your Saving Goals. Your job is to determine the amount you want to save, the duration you want to save for, and the frequency of your saving. Our job is to pay you 10% per annum. Fair deal, right? By the way, that’s the highest rate in the industry.

Like you don’t need a manual to operate your phone, we seriously believe that you don’t need us to run your account. But in the event you need to speak to a human, we have a 24/7 dedicated Customer Support Center that can be reached on 0700CALLALAT. We are also on all social media platforms; yes, we know our target audience live there.

How Do I Experience ALAT?

ALAT is available on Android and iOS. I use a blackberry or Windows phone? We’ve got the web version for you.

We built ALAT through customers’ feedback and we will appreciate yours.

I write about digital banking, fintech, and the Nigerian banking industry in general. Don’t forget to check back for more!

Let’s connect on LinkedIn here or on Twitter here . If you prefer email here it is nnamdi.azodo@gmail.com

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