Universal Merchant Bank (UMB), one of the nation’s leading universal banks, is poised to become a digital-first bank as it turns 50 today.
The bank’s Managing Director, Nana Kwadwo Dwemoh Benneh revealed to senior journalists in Accra, said the vision is to provide customers with diverse and easy-to-use digital channels to access banking services on the go, to that bank staff can focus more on advisory roles rather than day-to-day banking services.
Currently, the bank provides services through its UMB SpeedApp, which allows customers and non-customers to access banking services on the go without necessarily having a bank account with UMB.
“Our digital channels will be a bouquet including our UMB SpeedApp, social media channels and possibly a Chatbot as well as the usual customer service phone numbers where less tech-savvy customers can still contact staff,” he said. declared.
SME and retail banking
He noted that UMB is a known leader in investment and corporate banking, so the digitization campaign is more aimed at gaining market share in the small business (SME) and banking sectors. retail, which is why the bank has no intention of bypassing less tech-savvy customers, so customer service phone lines will always be available.
The CEO believes that the technology has democratized to the point that the barrier to entry is very low, and that is why he is convinced that the digital priority will ultimately lead to an increase in UMB’s market share , particularly in the SME sector.
“At the heart of our digital first program is a vision to partner with SME banking and that is also underway as most of our large enterprise customers also deal with many SMEs and so we can interact with them and sign them. over time,” he said.
Mr. Dwemoh Benneh noted that many people in the country today, especially young people, are technology driven. The UMB therefore believes that targeting young people with digital channels to access banking services is the right direction to take.
He said the bank intended to work extensively with as many fintech (fintech) companies in Ghana and elsewhere on the continent to pilot its digital first program, saying there was no need to reinvent the wheel since the expertise already exists both in the country and on the continent.
“We have a number of young people who are among the top fintech providers in the country. When you look at the fintech reports in Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana are doing very well and we intend to leverage this to expand our footprint in other countries,” he said. he declares.
He also believes going digital will reduce the brick-and-mortar expenses that come with expanding the traditional method, adding that digitization will also help the bank retrain and refocus its employees on better ways to help customers instead. than normal day-to-day banking. service.
“We believe the digitization strategy allows us to grow and gain market share without necessarily investing a colossal amount of investment that was previously required if you wanted to grow through branches,” he said.
Mr. Dwemoh Benneh, said the bank’s digitization strategy is not just about products for customers, but also about transforming their back-office business.
“We believe that by also applying digitization to certain professional work, it allows our staff to engage more with the client and offer more of a relational approach, an advisory approach to clients,” he said. he declares.
So the plan is to empower customers to handle the simple things while bank staff focus on advising customers on, for example, the types of investment opportunities that exist, how to get funding for projects and things of that nature.
Meanwhile, Mr. Dwemoh Benneh said the bank intends to use its 50th anniversary celebration to gather enough information from customers on what they expect from the bank in the future, so as to that “we focus our energies on achieving the aspirations of our customers”.
“We also want to use this time to bridge the gap between the former Merchant Bank and UMB so people can appreciate our rich history, especially in merchant and merchant banking, and what we have to offer in terms of SME and retail banking in the future,” he said.
“Basically what we’re looking for is to engage and re-engage to the extent that we can offer things that are relevant to the types of customers we want to attract so that we can use that as a springboard to grow. our market. share,” he added.
The bank under the direction of Mr. Dwemoh Benneh observes business developments on the African continent.
The CEO noted that within the continent, many developments are happening, especially around the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), under which a pan-African payment system is to be launched.
He thinks the AfCFTA holds great promise, so UMB is strategizing on how to leverage this to grow by leveraging strategic partnerships and linkages across the continent – whether with banks or fintechs.