Instant Account Opening Services can Revolutionize Payments in Nigeria. Here’s How:

On April 26th, I woke up to news that Stanbic IBTC announced its new “Instant Account Opening Service” currently in its beta phase. A week before however, Wema Bank had taken the lead with its product, “Alat” which requires only a Bio-metric Verification Number (BVN) and a phone number for registration and access to banking services via the bank’s app. Consequently, this strategy has effectively lowered the barrier to accessing and adopting banking services as the confluence of the ubiquity of mobile phones, the maturation of cloud technology and a working identity management system has, in actual fact, provided this opportunity.

All the same, superior products do not always win in the marketplace when compared to products that cause changes in users’ behaviors and priorities. For instance, WhatsApp trumped Blackberry simply by employing phone numbers as the center of its messaging experience and eliminating the need for pins (which suddenly revealed themselves to be burdensome).

That said, why do I believe that the “Instant Account Opening Service” has the potential to transform payments? Well, as alluded to in my phone number example, if these digital solutions are to harvest their full potentials, the phone number must be employed as the epicenter of the banking experience, thus, eliminating the need for a bank account number to effect transactions. Such a strategy, I believe, would make financial transactions much quicker and simpler for all involved.

As for start-ups, this could be the key to finally laying to rest, the ‘monster’ of pay on delivery. You see in the end, business and commerce are really about trade-offs. While Pay-On-Delivery arguably became the critical leverage point that led to the explosion of e-commerce and by extension technology-based business models. It allowed these platforms engender the trust of users and prove their authenticity by allowing the users experience the product/service physically before they pay. And like everything else, it is highly subject to abuse. The consequences for start-ups especially in the retail space can be the difference between life and death.

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