One of the county’s commercial banks, FDH Bank, at the weekend unveiled a new innovation which will see Malawians opening bank accounts on their mobile phones. Our reporter TAONGA SABOLA caught up with FDH Bank Head of Marketing, LEVIE NKUNIKA, for an insight on how this will be possible.
Tell us more about the Ufulu Digital Account?
Well, the Ufulu Digital Account is another first on the market and will change the way banking is viewed and done in Malawi forever. Ufulu Digital Account is a virtual account, created by the customers themselves using USSD or the FDH Mobile Smart Application. This is ideal for the banked and the unbanked alike. The account number for a digital account is denoted by the number of the phone used to register the account.
What prompted such an innovation?
We know people like freedom. The account offers unrivalled and absolute freedom and convenience to the customer. There is no need to fill any papers. No need to call anyone. No need to have account balances. No need to pay monthly charges. No need for an existing account with FDH. The Ufulu Digital Account offers elevated convenience and service is available 24/7.
The Ufulu Digital Account breaks all barriers for people to access banking services, such as physical distance to a branch, the cost of travel, cost of maintaining an account, time required to open an account, need to keep a balance in the account and uses both ordinary and smart phones and does not rely on the internet. Thus more people are embracing the formal banking channels at a much lower cost than before.
How does one open Ufulu Digital Account?
The Ufulu Digital Account offers absolute convenience, independence and freedom. In five simple steps you finish the process of opening the account. It is that easy. It is designed with the client in mind to simplify life and redefine convenience and throw it to the deeper end. No papers. No charges. And no time wasted. It is indeed real freedom – Ufulu. You just dail *525# and you follow through the five steps. And you are good to go.
Sounds interesting, so what services are available on the Ufulu Digital Account?
Despite it not operating in the brick and mortal space and not requiring paper, it operates as a full transactional bank account offering cash deposits, cash withdrawals (via all FDH ATMs, FDH Service Centres, and FDH Banki Pakhomo agents spread throughout the country), bill payments, airtime purchase, mini statements view, transfers to FDH Bank and other banks, and FDH Wallet. It is completely the first of its kind in Malawi and arguably in the region.
How does one deposit money into the account?
Cash deposits can be done through FDH service centres, FDH ATMs and FDH Banki Pakhomo. Customers can also transfer money from their other bank accounts to the digital account.
But how safe is the money in Ufulu Digital Account?
FDH Ufulu Digital Account has one of the best security protocals in Malawi and the account is pin protected and uses other one-time-password features along the transaction chain.
As a bank, what’s your target market?
As a progressive and ambitious bank that aims to provide relevant and innovative client-centred financial solutions to our clients and customers, we are aiming at staying relevant to all key customer segments. We have solid corporate and business banking products that address the needs and requirements of top end local and international corporates; treasury and trade finance products and the technology oriented product portfolio for the personal and business banking clients.
We also continue to cultivate the SME segment which will continue to be the engine of the economy, aiming to provide them with solutions that increase their ease of doing business and increase their growth potential.
As a corporate citizen, we are placing special emphasis on the mass unbaked and under-banked who hold the key to unleash the untapped full economic potential for the nation.
Of late we have seen FDH Bank making strides in both digital as well as physical spaces. What are you trying to achieve?
That it an excellent observation. To effectively grow our digital footprint, requires a solid brick and mortal presence to offer effective support and after-service care and customer service to ensure that customer product experience is excellent. Thus, we continue to expand and improve our footprint and have recently moved our service centres to bigger and more ambient premises at Salima, Chichiri Mall, Chiradzulu, Kasungu and Balaka.
This will make us more accessible to customers and would-be customers. We have engaged in continuous customer improvement and, therefore, this exercise continues and will be completed in 2018/19.
The customer experience has been greatly improved by these initiatives, but beyond that we now have increased capacity to serve more customers than ever in these areas. Our business will benefit as well with increased transactional volumes made.
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