Account Opening by African Financial Services

olamide olayemi
Published in
8 min readJun 23, 2020


Written by Paul Damalie and Kwame Yeboah

Chapter One: Websites as a channel of onboarding for African financial services

Today, financial services across Africa have adopted an omnichannel approach to acquiring customers. Traditionally, direct sales have been the major channel for customer acquisition (still a significant, but expensive channel today).

Over the past two decades, however, with the advent of mobile money in Africa, digital channels are increasingly becoming a preferred and cost-effective means of delivering financial services to customers.

USSD and its accompanying agent network by far accounts for more than 60% of digitization efforts by financial services across Africa. Mobile apps and the use of the website as a channel for onboarding is gradually catching on, mostly introduced by challenger banks in Africa, eg: Wallets Africa and adopted by a younger demographic.

In this series on account opening by financial services in Africa we aim to achieve the following:

1) Document existing account opening approaches by traditional banks and challenger banks in Africa.

2) Explore user interface and experience design approaches to account opening via USSD, mobile or website for individuals and businesses

3) Demonstrate how Appruve can be used to improve the user experience and prevent the onboarding of bad actors during account opening

In this chapter, we will compare how challenger banks, Wallets.Africa and Lydia from Nigeria compare with more traditional banks Ghana Commercial Bank and Universal Merchant Bank from Ghana in their approach to account opening via their respective websites.

We will recommend user experience tips and how Appruve Web SDK and APIs can be used to improve the experience of account opening as well as identity & document verification.

Current approaches in digital onboarding between traditional and challenger banks

1. How traditional banks enable account creation via their website:


To create an account on the GCB website, you have to go through the Internet banking button on the GCB landing page then an open account button is shown which leads to downloading offline forms for filling

The GCB landing page as of June 2020


It’s a clean website. Makes use of cards and spacing, which allows users to clearly identify various sections of the website. As a customer, there are probably too many options for me to select from.

The GCB internet banking page as of June 2020


Even though I had many options to choose from, it was quite easy for me to find what I wanted. I went straight to finding the account form option I wanted.

I couldn’t actually open an account online. I had to download forms, and walk into a banking hall.


Creating an account on the UMB website is quite unclear. The flow follows homepage > personal banking > accounts > products. After which the user is presented with 13 account options. There is still no way to create the account online as the product presentations are only informational.

The UMB homepage page as of June 2020
The account description page


The hero banner here is used to communicate current offerings of UMB here. I think other channels could be used instead, for example, email-a newsletter.

Again, there’s just so much to choose from, with so much text. It appears the idea is to give you as much information as they can.

2. How challenger banks enable account creation via their website:


Lydia’s homepage as at June 2020


Great choice of image and copy for the hero banner, with a businesswoman smiling. Speaks volumes!

There’s only one thing for me to do. Sign Up!


Wallet’s landing page as at June 2020


Wallets. Africa makes use of spacing to create clarity and focus on the job to be done,i.e create an account.

UX Tip

Create a sense of clarity and focus for your users when onboarding them.

The user experience should be driven by the main job-to-be-done; account creation.

How challenger banks are approaching account opening differently

For this, we use the account signup process of Wallets Africa as the case study.

1. Wallets’ account creation start page

Minimalism is a key concept that drives the focus of the user to achieve the job to be done. Wallets use a very clear simple guided choice for users to select their account type.

2. Wallets’ individual account creation start page

Wallets makes the user feel at ease by requesting for User’s details in stages; first the phone number.

3. Wallets’ individual account creation stage 2

Users are requested to enter more personal information.

4. Wallets’ individual account creation page 3

Users are requested to set a password for their account.

5. Users are welcomed to their Wallets dashboard on the platform

This welcome screen aims at making the users more comfortable with the platform and also reinforces the Wallet promise to a new user.

6. Users are asked to update their profile with their IDs.

For users to begin using their accounts on Wallets, they need to undergo a KYC process of verifying their ID documents (and BVNs). This requirement is not clearly specified in the onboarding process which might lead to stale users (when users do not update their IDs).

7. Identity and document verification is undertaken incrementally and tied to transactions

It’s important not to overwhelm your users at the beginning of the account opening process. Wallets Africa achieves this by requiring their users to add documents when they want to undertake transactions.


You don’t need to overwhelm users by collecting every information you need immediately during the account opening stage of onboarding

Using Appruve Web SDK and API to transform GCB Bank onboarding experience

There are 8 checklist requirements for the GCB account opening process and the first one begins the account opening form. The rest are mainly Identity and address verifications.

The form for personal account opening has 102 questions. At most 64 are compulsory depending on the status of the person filling the form.

GCB’s Personal account opening form

To transition the experience of account opening, by a GCB customer online and fully remote, we would be utilizing Appruve’s web SDK to make the process less cumbersome and secure, we design a more simplified yet comprehensive flow.

1. Account type selection screen

Asking for limited information to shorten the process

Appruve’s web SDK works like a form builder. It comes with pre-built web components that collect relevant account opening and KYC information needed by financial services. Just drag and drop components, and build a form for account opening.

The SDK is designed to lay emphasis on limiting data collection all at once, hence reducing the impact of information overload on the user being onboarded. Sign up to use Appruve web SDK to design your onboarding here.

2. User details screen

Personal Identifiable Information can all be collected in just one step with a minimalistic form. Design specifications to suit your brand and design requirements.

3. User uploads their biometric ID for verification

Identity Document verification

Every customer needs to prove their identity before being allowed to create a bank account anywhere in the world. Appruve Web SDK comes with document verification and liveness check capabilities. It’s just a matter of dragging and dropping the component.

Document verification at Appruve is not limited to a facial comparison. We analyze other security components of the document including UV Image and Holograms, Tactile Impressions, Document Number Algorithms etc. This ensures that bad actors are not able to upload forged documents.

4. User confirms the details of their uploaded ID for verification

Instant access to African Identity Databases

With Appruve’s network of over 200 million identities across the African continent and its’ identity document verification products, allows it to easily and instantly verify identity documents such as national identity documents, passports, voter identity documents, social security numbers, health insurance documents and business certificates across Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, with major African markets in the pipeline.

This speed, accuracy and rapidly expanding database would serve a bank like GCB quite well in verifying its new customers, locally as Ghanaians and other African nationals.

5. Verification happens automatically and users can now be shown their account dashboards.

With four simplified steps, users can be onboarded and their identities can be verified on GCB’s website without the need for visiting a physical branch. Using this process simplifies both the account opening forms and the 8-compliance checklist requirements in account opening for GCB.


Irrespective of the channel, users just want to access a service. Your goal as a service provider is to make the experience of accessing your service as simple as possible.

In our next chapter, UX Engineers, Shaan Chopra and Abdulquadri Sotomiwa at Appruve will be examining USSD as a channel for onboarding across Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. They will explore the user experience and security challenges and why it is a preferred channel of digital financial services delivery on the continent. Then finally identify some best practices of onboarding via USSD and how Appruve API can be utilized.

Subscribe for the next chapter here



olamide olayemi

Digital marketing evangelist| Business Analyst and Consultant| Storyteller. I manage communications at Appruve.