Etisalat Group, United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) mobile operator, through its subsidiary in Nigeria, is rolling out a new and comprehensive smartphone application that will enable customers to access their mobile money services faster, BusinessDay learnt on Thursday.
The telecommunications company, with reported net revenue of $10.6 billion as at March, 2014, is looking to take advantage of Nigeria’s rising smartphone penetration to provide basic financial services. The number of smartphone users is expected to increase to more than 35 million in 2017 from 5.6 million at the end of 2012, according to a research study by Informa Telecoms & Media.
Since September 2012, Etisalat has partnered with international and regional banks including GTBank, Zenith Bank, Stanbic Bank, First Bank Nigeria, as well as Paga Payment Network to allow Etisalat Nigeria customers to access banking services through their mobile phones. Till date, the service has successfully registered over 15 million SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) ‘Tool Kit’ application downloads on consumer SIM cards.
Khalifa Al Forah, Etisalat Group’s chief digital services officer, said the telecommunications company is at the forefront of technology innovation, bringing to the market relevant and transformational services to its customers across the group markets. “Nigeria currently has a smartphone penetration of over 10 percent and it is expected to reach 40 percent in the next two years”, he stated.
By enabling people to use their mobile phones to access advanced banking services, Al Forah said the company not only hope to deliver lasting benefits to its customers, but also contribute to the socio-economic development of the economies of Nigeria.
Matthew Willsher, chief executive officer, Etisalat Nigeria, said research has shown that m-banking and m-payments can help lower the transaction costs of money transfer, increase the flow of money by making it easier to send smaller amounts as well as introduce efficient tool for secure financial management.
“We believe the benefits to our customers will be immense and that this has the potential to transform the way we handle and manage money in this country”, he said.
Etisalat’s new smartphone app adds new dimensions to its existing mobile banking service. It supports all currently available functions and allows for more flexibility and convenience through additional features. The new app supports all major platforms including Android, Apple iOS, Windows Mobile and Java. It has a crisp, intuitive user interface accessible in English, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages. It uses advanced ISO-1 compliant security features which ensure safe customer transactions that cannot be intercepted or manipulated by fraudsters. The app provides easy user interaction through icons, pictograms and bar-code reading functionalities.
To develop this transformational service expansion, Etisalat has been working with globally renowned financial and technology partners in Nigeria to comply with local and global banking regulations and to facilitate payments and settlements in line with internationally recognised standards. Etisalat is also partnering with major Nigerian financial institutions such as Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBBS), banks and major global players such as MasterCard Worldwide to provide customers bill payment facility, merchant transactions and merchant trading solutions. These partnerships also allow Etisalat customers to top-up airtime for family and friends, regardless of which network they are on.
According to Willsher, the mobile phone has already improved African life in so many ways – “it’s exciting to think it now has the potential to replace notes and coins and give all of our customers’ access to world-class banking services.”