Home Business & Economy Union Bank drives innovation with digital, smarter transformation

Union Bank drives innovation with digital, smarter transformation

Union Bank drives innovation with digital, smarter transformation

In spite of the harsh and occasionally unpredictable working atmosphere witnessed by a number of sectors of the Nigeria economy and most especially the financial sector, Union Bank has continued to drive transformational innovation with digital simpler and smarter banking.

As one of Nigeria’s longest standing and most respected financial institutions, Established in 1917 and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1971, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. is a household name as shareholders of Bank have expressed happiness with the performances of the management and board of the bank in the last 100 years of its existence.Basking on the euphoria of its existence , Union Bank started celebrating the 100-years of its milestone under three broad themes – Celebrate, Impact and Lead.

According to Chief Executive Officer, Emeka Emuwa
, “Our 100th anniversary presents a unique opportunity for Union Bank to frame its own story, highlighting our many successes over the last century and presenting our simpler, smarter vision of banking and corporate citizenship to a new generation of customers.”With good customer deposits growth, the CEO noted that it was led by new product offerings, increased market penetration and improved customer off take, expanded retail product portfolio with the launch of five new products including Unionkorrect, a savings product that allows customers to earn interest while also supporting a charitable cause

‘’Also it has recorded accelerated customer on-board on UnionMobile and UnionOnline with over 380% growth in mobile users and about 50% increase in internet banking users following the launch of new platforms with expanded capabilities in 2016
With total Assets of 1.12Trn, 251.3Bn Total Equity 800 ATMs , 3.2m Customers base and over 2,700 Employees ,Union bank vision is to make lives better by delivering the simplest, smartest solutions and guaranteeing the best experience every time
As at today , Daily Champion Checks reveals that many Union Bank branches across the network has been upgraded to align with the banks new brand identity , which is customer centered service approach.

Interestingly Union bank has unveiled a plethora of digital banking solutions which includes a new version of its mobile banking app, UnionMobile, and *826#, a unique USSD code which will allow customers perform banking transactions through short code messaging on their mobile phones.

At an interactive meeting with the media in Ikoyi Lagos, the bank also revealed its upgraded online banking platform, UnionOnline, with aesthetic improvements, new features and targeted offers for its customer segments.
With *826#, Union Bank joins a growing financial industry trend which hopes to extend banking services to less tech savvy customers, and customers who want to avoid internet banking which requires data, as well as the financially excluded.
Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Emeka Emuwa, spoke effusively about the bank’s new banking solutions and its commitment to delivering on its brand proposition.

“Simpler, Smarter banking is not just a tagline for us. We have worked tirelessly for nearly two years to deliver the solutions we are presenting today because we invested time and resources to understand what our customers really need and how we can deliver the right solutions to meet those needs.“This investment in understanding our customers’ needs has led to the innovations and first-to-market features we are unveiling today. Our new platforms marry simplicity, functionality and aesthetics to deliver a seamless and improved user experience for our customers” Emuwa said.

He noted that borrowing from the UBER innovation concept, Union Bank has introduced a ‘Locate an Agent’ feature on its banking app, designed to bring its mobile banking services directly to its customers.Using the mobile app, customers can locate the Union Bank Direct Sales Agent (DSA) closest to them and request cash collection for deposit or withdrawals. Agents can also open accounts and assist customers with other banking services at a location convenient for them.This new feature is designed especially to support small businesses.“The ‘Locate an Agent’ feature was developed to provide a much desired convenience for small businesses and sole entrepreneurs. This is an on-demand service which allows them conclude basic banking transactions at a time and location most convenient to them. It saves them time and provides one-on-one VIP service they would likely not get at the branches,” he said.

Single USSD code for mCash
Bucking the industry standard which relies on a shared USSD code for mCash merchant payments, Union Bank has become the foremost bank in Nigeria to enable its own unique USSD code for the mCash payment system.
This means that customers of the Bank can use the bank’s short code, 826, to make mCash payments at participating merchant locations, whereas other banks do not use their own codes but rely on a shared short code from Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) which owns the mCash platform. mCash is a real-time mobile payment solution which relies on short code messaging for payments of goods and services.

Finding ATMs with Cash and Cardless Withdrawals

While the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Locator functionality is not a novel one, Union Bank has raised the bar by introducing innovation which will give customers real-time information on ATMs in service and dispensing cash.
Union Bank customers can also now make card less withdrawals at ATMs by simply generating a code on the new banking app to use at ATMs.
Simpler, Smarter Banking.With the successful launch of this new digital platform, Union Bank can truly boast of a simpler and smarter 360-degree banking experience for customers across mobile, online and USSD platforms.

Also ,narrating the digital transformation agenda, Mr Emeka Emuwa stated while unveiling some branches at the South South zone that the banks simpler and smarter package will afford their customers quality, reliable, secured and effective services.According to him, What we are we are doing is in a continuation of our transformation journey that started three years ago. “Our goal is to make banking simpler and smarter for our numerous customers across the country, as restructuring and upgrading of Union bank branch network was a critical piece of transformation.

He Stressed that the essence of the restructuring and upgrading is to “ensure that we are in the right locations and serving the right customers in a functional and professional setting

“We want to assure our customers that we are innovative bank and want to be seen as big, strong, reliable, simpler and smartest bank. We have refurbished over many branches across the country and a lot have gone into the product that we are unveiling.”.
Speaking with daily Champion , the banks Transformation Director, Joe Mbulu called on customers to partner with the bank in utilizing the transformed platform, saying that customers can now do bank transaction from the comfort of their beds using online, e-banking and mobile banking platforms.

Assuring customers of security, Mbulu said; “Our pillar is our transformational standard, we make promise and we fulfill it. The simpler and smartest banking we have transformed into is to ensure easy banking. So, we want our customers to join us and experiment with us in this journey.”

“As you can see, there is a difference between what you see today and what was here before. We present a simpler, smarter bank. Beside the ambience being more comfortable for our customers, it also demonstrates the fact that we’ve invested in technology. Customers can come in and come out in short time; get attended to with more improved services, and at the same time (we) have a brand identity that is more vibrant than we had before. .

‘We commenced with our people by optimizing our talent base. We hired the right people for the right roles and aligned our compensation with industry standard. We strengthened our technology by undertaking the task of rolling out a brand new banking platform and successfully implemented it. We built a state of the art datacentre. We also built the central processing centre to streamline and standardize operations across board. We restructured our business model to focus clearly on banking. We also re-enhanced our product and service offerings for our retail, commercial and corporate segments,’ he noted..
“We have (also) built a world class data centre in Lagos; and we have a backup of that databank. So, the era of ‘system down’ in Union Bank is over.

The new innovation he said came as a response to customers’ desire and the bank commitment to serve its customers better Reacting to innovation drive in Union Bank, the speaker Plateau State House of Assembly , Hon. Peter Azi said he was excited in the new transformation of Union Bank, stressing that “the new technology introduced by the bank is one that we may have never have seen before in this country. I’m impressed. The Ponzhi Zinni Of Langtang, HRH Nimnam Langnim , Chief Judge Of Plateau State, Justice Pius Damlak, former Plateau State Deputy Governor, Ignatius Longjan and others attested to the quality of services in the bank.Commenting on the smarter and simpler status of Union Bank during the at a ceremony at Patani road, Ughelli, Delta State, HRM. Ovie R.L Ogbon, Ogoni-Oghoro 1, (JP) RDN, OON, the Owhorode of Olomu Kingdom, commended the bank for being so reliable even in storm and turbulent times. The monarch expressed joy over the transformation, saying that the bank has transformed and has brought in so many innovation that were missing before. He thanked the bank for the transformation which is not limited to its modern equipment and facilities but also in excellent staff service delivery.

In his speech, the Chief Executive Officer, GP International, Chief Gbegbaje Das 1, stated that there is a lot of positive infrastructural and service delivery change, adding that the transformations are customer oriented and beneficiary to customers. He noted that he had been banking with Union Bank for many years, commending the bank for their doggedness amidst different storms to transform into a smarter and simpler bank when many banks had folded up.

Corporate social responsibility

“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) remains a key component of Union Bank’s strategic drive for the overall development of the society in which it operates. The bank’s commitment and efforts in CSR have not only won several awards and accolades within Nigeria, but it has also done so internationally while the bank’s efforts cover a broad range of human needs and have impacted positively on the quality of life of a large number of individuals, interest groups and communities.

UnionCares4IDPs – an employee fundraising drive which raised N15 million for internally displaced people (IDPs), which was then matched by the Bank for a total N30 million; Financial Literacy in Schools – through this initiative, the Bank adopts schools across the country and Union Bank volunteers teach students to help them become financially literate, while also supporting other maintenance needs in the school; Support for Team Nigeria – Union Bank was the only corporate organisation to support Team Nigeria at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Bank donated N30 million to the team which went directly towards the welfare of the 100 Olympic and Paralympic athletes representing the country, as well as support for the Nigerian Olympic Committee.

“These efforts cover areas such as education, health, community development, sports, youth and women empowerment, arts and culture, disaster relief, security, government agencies and non-governmental organizations’ activities among others. As a responsible corporate citizen, the bank strives to make contributions that make a meaningful impact on the well-being of the beneficiaries and the society at large”.

Ratings/Corporate Governance

Union Bank has consistently recorded good ratings from both international and local rating agencies which financial analysts have argued were supported by its leading market position in all key performance indices.

Union Bank won the award for ‘Best Brand Development To Reflect Changed Mission / Vision / Positioning’ beating Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Bank Al Bilad among others. Also, it received “Most Efficient Bank on e-Reference Operations” – CBN/NIBSS e-Payment Efficiency Award, “Global Award For Excellence in Business Process Management”, Ranked No. 9 in Jobberman’s Best Places to Work in Nigeria survey for 2016 and the “Most improved bank in retail banking” – Business Day.

Meanwhile, Union Bank has consistently put in place a “healthy system of corporate governance, bearing in mind the key elements of honesty, trust, integrity, openness and accountability as well as commitment to the organization’s goals. To uphold strong corporate governance and transparency, the bank adopts a robust public disclosure policy. This is to forestall incidences of abuse, such as insider trading. All financial information, as well as exceptional and extraordinary events capable of influencing the public decision concerning the bank, are approved for dissemination by the board and then related through authorized means to the public at the same time. The release of such information is done speedily and as often as stipulated by the regulatory bodies”.

Speaking on the Group’s results for the year, Emeka Emuwa said: “In 2016, we focused on executing our priorities across the different business segments, especially in the retail space, with an aggressive strategy to increase adoption of our alternate channels. Our success in this area, along with improved core interest earnings, contributed to pre-tax profit growth of 6perceny, compared to 2015.
Our research led product development strategy, coupled with an up skill sales force and targeted marketing campaigns, propelled our customer deposit base by 15percent, compared to 2015, and a 73percent increase in new-to-bank customers. While the operating environment remains a challenge, we are focused on our 2017 priorities which include raising Tier 1 capital to execute our growth agenda across our retail, commercial and corporate businesses, particularly transaction banking and value chain”.

Commenting further on the 2016 figures, Chief Financial Officer, Oyinkan Adewale, said:“On the back of strong customer deposits, the Bank reduced average interbank local currency borrowing by 75percent, leading to 141bps reduction in primary cost of funds and 17percent increase in net interest income. The Group continued to drive cost optimization, with cost-income-ratio declining to 66.2percent from 70.7percent in 2015, notwithstanding a high inflation environment. We will continue to focus on optimising cost in 2017. As we look to raise additional capital to execute business priorities, we will maintain our prudent approach to growing our risk assets while aggressively growing low cost deposits.”

Reacting to the awards, Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Emeka Emuwa said, “Our award winning identity reflects our new proposition to make banking simpler and smarter for our customers. Following the brand launch, Union Bank has introduced two innovative savings products – UnionKorrect and UnionGoal to the Nigerian market. We have rolled out the new identity in 80 branches across the country, ensuring that our customers are able to bank in a modern and professional environment. We continue to launch new branches every quarter.“Our technology and banking platform upgrades, along with the transformation of our processes have reduced our transaction processing times by over 20percent. The impact of these changes are being felt by our customers and reflected in reputable independent surveys which show a marked improvement in Union Bank’s industry rankings on customer service. We are also attracting new customers to the bank and growing our overall customer base which boosted our deposit book by 12percent in 2015. Given the positive feedback we have received on the new identity, locally and now internationally, Union Bank will continue to push forward to ensure that our products and services continue to reflect our brand proposition,” he said.

2017 outlook
Industry watchers are of the opinion that Union Bank will have a modest growth in gross earnings in full year 2017, and of the view that premised upon expectation of moderate growth in interest income, higher interest expense and weaker non- interest income.However, Emuwa maintained that although the economic environment is expected to remain challenging in 2017, ‘’we will continue to focus on our strategic priorities in order to deliver our overall business goals.

‘‘We will maintain our focus on growing our retail business relying on our tailored products, alternate banking and sales channels, and professional customer service. In our commercial and corporate businesses, we will continue to focus on on-boarding top-tier industry names, while also proactively identifying niche industries and players in a thriving “made-in-Nigeria” economy. ‘‘Growing our Transaction Banking business is also a priority area for us as we believe that we have the expertise and platforms to deliver superior service to customers in this space. We remain optimistic about identifying growth opportunities in the economy and remain focused on building a business that will endure for the next 100 years and beyond”, he assured.

For a better society


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