Unity Bank Plc, a commercial bank in Nigeria, has launched an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) banking in Nigeria’s three major languages – Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. This makes Unity Bank the first Nigerian commercial bank to offer USSD in a local language.
USSD transactions have gained traction over the past five years among bank customers, compelling Nigerian financial institutions to make it a core component of their e-payment solutions. According to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBBS USSD transactions grew by a whopping 283% in 2018 to hit N261 million from N92.4 million in 2017.
The rate of USSD use by bank customers also grew by 35% in 2018, compared to 25% in 2017.
The introduction of Nigerian languages is an added feature to the Unity Bank’s USSD Platform. By dialing the Short Code: *7799# on any mobile phone, Unity Bank’s customers will now have the option to continue their transactions in any of their preferred languages.
Commenting on the initiative, the Group Head, Retail, SME & E-Business, Unity Bank Plc, Olufunwa Olugbenga Akinmade said that the solution will boost the existing e-payment channels available to the bank’s customers to further drive customer experience.
He stated that it would also help to deepen mobile payment and contribute to Nigeria’s drive to meet the 80 per cent financial inclusion target this year.
What we have done is to expand the channel of access to our offerings. Nigeria’s teledensity, according to the Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC, is at 91.1 per cent as of 2019. This means that a solution like this will resonate with millions of Nigerians who are more comfortable transacting in their local languagesOlufunwa Olugbenga Akinmade, Group Head, Retail, SME & E-Business, Unity Bank
He further noted that this USSD solution has now added to the bouquet of mobile solutions the bank has introduced recently to cater to the youth, mass market and MSMEs.
He also pointed out that Unity Bank is speedily moving to promote retail and SME businesses by enhancing mobile payment solutions to meet the needs of its customers.
A statement by the Bank added that the upgrade in the features of the transaction on the platform is part of Unity Bank’s initiatives aimed at achieving an optimal level of interaction on the USSD banking channel.
“It is targeted at market segments at the lower level of the pyramid intended to drive greater financial inclusion in the country as well as deploy more solutions for fast, efficient and convenient banking, whilst targeting the underbanked.”
USSD codes are perfect for improving financial inclusion in Nigeria. According to NCC stats, there are more than 180 million active phone users in Nigeria. However, number of internet subscribers stands at about 113 million.
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