Fri, 27/07/2018 - 05:30
Current Issue 69
Powering Financial Inclusion
ALAT by Wema’s Chief Digital Officer Dele Adeyinka reveals the Company’s remarkable success since it launched in Nigeria in May 2017
Writer: Tom Wadlow
Project Manager: Josh Mann
Digital finance has proven itself as a vital bridge for communities without access to traditional banking infrastructure.
In many cases, for example in Nigeria, consumers and commercial clients are seeking disruptive solutions that go beyond the tradition of the bricks and mortar branch. Central to this is offering borderless, branchless banking, breaking down barriers.
Enter ALAT by Wema Bank. Launched in May, 2017, it is Nigeria’s first fully digital bank, where customers can do their banking transactions without ever entering any physical branch. ALAT was designed to cater for the need of today’s (digital) customers who are in dire needs of a bank that understands and suites their lifestyle with respect to value for time/money and responsiveness.
Dele Adeyinka, the Chief Digital Officer of ALAT, explains that ALAT is much more than a bank, it’s the future of banking. “ALAT is a fully digital bank designed to deliver tomorrow’s banking to today’s customer. It is built to match your lifestyle and help you save more.
“With ALAT, you can save seamlessly with a simple automated savings plan and earn 10% annual interest – three times the standard bank rate. You can also get a short-term loan whenever you’re in a pinch, with no paperwork, guarantors or collateral needed.”
You can also perform the following transactions: personal savings, group saving, loans on goals, virtual dollar card, fx transfers, card control and remittance.
Nigeria possess a youthful and vibrant adult population, and ALAT’s services cater to this rapidly growing population. This is helped by the fact the Company is itself a forward-thinking, innovative platform that is tailored made for this demographic.
“We focus on students, young professionals and young entrepreneurs keeping a keen eye to making sure we meet their ever-changing needs,” Adeyinka continues. “We have continued and will continue to tailor our services to providing solutions to their financial needs.”
ALAT’s products are perfect to meet the increasing need of Nigerians to save money and manage a flexible lifestyle. Savings options are comprised of three major products. Flexi Goals allows users to save a specified daily amount and withdraw 50 percent of that amount once every 30 days without losing accrued interest. Fixed Goals allows a daily, weekly or monthly amount to be saved without any withdrawal limit until the target is met. Users who do not wish to set targets can opt for Stash, a save-as-you-go account which accrues interest after 30 days of money being saved.
Further, ALAT has diversified its offering into instant short loans, a virtual dollar converter card, bills and payment scheduling services, and a lifestyle shop where customers can buy entertainment such as movies and event tickets through its app.
The flexible offering has so far proven a big hit, and no doubt will continue to help Nigeria towards its unbanked reduction target.
“From inception just over a year ago, the market has reacted positively and we have grown our customer base from zero to over 280,000 with a total deposit of over two billion naira, and processed over 40 billion naira in transactions,” Adeyinka explains. “There is still a lot of room to increase our reach as we continue to build and upgrade to accommodate solutions tailored to better suit the lifestyle of our existing and potential customers.”
ALAT’s progress to date can also be highlighted by the fact it has been the recipient of eight awards in the past year, among them is the Best Digital Bank Award from World Finance Magazine.
Internal and External Expertise
Such awards would not have been won without ALAT’s team of employees. As Adeyinka proudly stated, all of this development has been carried out by local Nigerian expertise.
“We have a lot highly skilled people in the country, especially in the tech space,” he adds. “We pride ourselves on the fact that we built this from scratch with a local developer and are always attracting the best within the industry to do great things.”
Partnering with like-minded technology startups has also proven key to ALAT’s rapid success, and the Company has helped to spearhead the development of a vibrant fintech ecosystem which is set to serve the whole country.
Adeyinka further explains how partnerships are vital in ensuring ALAT continues to meet consumer demand: “The way the industry is structured today, strategic partnerships are essential to meet the needs of the target group.
“The bank can’t necessarily provide a solution to every need of the target group, but can facilitate the process. We are always open to more local and international partnership to keep wowing our customers.”
Vital as they are, ALAT’s influence in local communities stretches far beyond the provision of digital banking services. Indeed, the Company prides itself on a far-reaching corporate social responsibility programme comprising small-scale activities that combine to make a real difference to Nigerian lives.
Such activities include beach cleaning, book donations to government-run schools and provision of malaria-treated mosquito nets to encampments. Further, the ALAT Salary for Love scheme sees employees and the Company offer a day’s salary to be used on worthy causes.
“The pride of any nation is its people,” Adeyinka says. “We also strive to make sure we aid the growth of younger people within the tech space through our internship programmes. Further, we drive efforts to increase financial literacy level within the community and in our communications.”
And what of ALAT’s own growth in the future? Adeyinka highlights several priorities, including developing improved product and service experience, re-engineering of processes, enhancing consumer engagement, adding more functionality to its platform and implementing AI-driven UX.
He concludes: “The thirst to want to create and recreate sets us apart. We have always been innovating and will continue to. As long as we stay at the innovation forefront, we can always stay ahead of the game.”