The Reimagination of Banking in Nigeria…A good thing for the customer

If you’re a keen observer of the Nigerian financial services industry, you will notice that bank and financial technologies seem to be the foremost innovative fronts in the country today. At least from the public’s point of view because we all have one financial transaction or another to perform daily and they have a large spend arsenal for advertising their achievements and industry innovations.

Though GTBank has maintained a major dominance within the Nigerian digital space over the years, which was once again recently reaffirmed with the launch of the GTworld app, this hold however seems to be dissipating as other players are starting to pay a lot of attention to online, social and web/digital assets. Wema Bank recently introduced Alat and even though the app has its operational flaws, the enthusiasm with which it was received by the public proves this point. Access bank is partnering with several fintechs to dominate the payments space and diamond bank has been consistent in its drive to migrate customers to its digital platforms.

More interestingly, however, is the fact that Zenith bank, which has always been known as a corporate focused and elitist financial institution is fast establishing a strong foothold within the social media and online space. The bank seems to be bringing the aggressiveness for which it is known to this space and taking advantage of the opportunities digital presence avails companies to interact with existing customers and prospects.

The Bank has successfully built a very large social following in a very short time. Pundits suspect it’s a part of Zenith’s attempt to change the public perception about its elitist status and encourage the public that they have a more appealing side. Anyone can walk into a Zenith Bank branch and open an account with only N1,000.

Take Facebook for instance, in under a year, the Bank has grown its following from less than 100,000 to 2.4 million followers, surpassing every other top tier bank including banks that have had a well-defined digital strategy for years, with the exception of GTBank which has had a 5–6 year headstart in social media marketing. On Twitter, Zenith now boasts over 500,000 followers, which is also the second highest in the Nigerian banking industry and it is also active on Instagram with a following that many a Nigerian social media influencer would envy.

The numbers are not just impressive. There has also been a massive improvement in the quality of Zenith’s social/online messaging, which is more relevant to the retail market. Its response to interactions on social media are also quicker and the Bank’s new website is very pleasant, youth focused and easier to navigate. A look at the quality of the bank’s email messaging and email transaction notification design also seem to support the premise that its strategy for the future is to target and appeal more to the Nigerian youth market.

These activities by the big banks posit new opportunities for the Nigerian public to choose a banking partner, especially where Zenith and GTBank are concerned. Complaints have been rife over the last two years about GTBank’s dwindling service standards and crowds at its banking halls which, with Zenith’s larger branch network and seemingly greater focus on service quality, could swing the pendulum for the bragging rights to the biggest retail banking player and socially responsive bank in Nigeria within the next two to three years, especially if Zenith successfully starts to attract younger customers through loyalty schemes and social engagement programmes.

With increasing expectations from customers for banks to give them more value, it is almost certain that those that come out on top in the new future may have to introduce a new form of product offering that is more suited to the individualistic nature of today’s public.

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