Guest Columnist

Banking On Mobile

Dele is a generator mechanic living at Egbeda. It’s 6.32am and as he leaves for his first assignment, he picks up his Chang-Chang smart phone, his wallet from the side table. His wallet has his ID card and a little cash. There is probably only enough for transport and lunch, but that’s fine as he has his ATM card in case of “incasities”. He retrieves his keys from behind the bed where his two-year old son likes to hide it and wonders when they will invent a lock that he could just punch in a code, or even use his phone to open.

The weather forecast predicted rain and true to form, a little shower has caused gridlock on the main routes. Luckily for  him, he had checked the traffic camera and reports online and seen that Lagos-Oshodi expressway was reasonably free. So he changed his route and was only five minutes late for his appointment, which by Lagos standard, wasn’t bad at all.

When no one was looking Dele stood beside Mr Bayo’s brand new Hyundai SUV and took a quick selfie. Chuckling to himself as he posted the picture to Facebook. After servicing Mr Bayo’s petrol generator and making sure that there wasn’t much downtime at the office, it was time to go. “Sorry Dele. I didn’t have chance to collect cash this early morning. Can you come back later to pick up your money?” Dele knew he would get no peace if he returned without that money this evening. “Don’t worry sir.” he quickly replied, gently waving his phone. Why not just “Paga” it.

2Ok so it might be a little ambitious for Dele right now….or is it? I received a Facebook friend request from my driver a while back, which made me reassess my assumptions about who was using social media and how people were using their phones. The increased proliferation of affordable smart phones has opened up opportunities that weren’t available even 2-3years ago.

Barriers to Mobile Adoption in Nigeria

I have always been an advocate of the mobile phone and I think mobile internet is the single greatest change to the marketing landscape, ushering an unprecedented level of access and connectivity. Which is why it is difficult to explain the poor uptake of some services, particularly mobile banking. There have been a lot of talk about financial inclusion, or banking the unbanked and mobile banking was to be the panacea.

Since the launch of Pagatech in 2011, there has been more than a dozen mobile money providers in Nigeria, from Banks, network operators to independents, but a recent report by Financial Inclusion Insights (FII) Tracker Survey of 6,002 adult Nigerians has revealed some of the reasons for the low uptake, with less than a million active subscribers.

Low awareness of mobile money providers – Only 12 percent of Nigerians have ever heard of mobile money providers according to the study, and crucially, much of the awareness comes from existing bank users, with awareness among non-users being four times lower.

This is partly due to traditional advertising including TV and radio, the primary source of brand awareness, not reaching potential customers. Limited knowledge about mobile money service – Research indicated that people lack reliable knowledge about how mobile money works, making them unwilling to use the service.

Mobile money non-users were unclear about what specific mobile money services are offered in Nigeria, the cost of mobile money transactions, or whether they need a specific type of phone to use the service. Low level of trust in mobile money services – Focus group results showed that trust in traditional banking services is underpinned by people’s perceptions of banks as institutions with proven financial records, established brands and a physical presence that provides reassurance.

Mobile money services, on the other hand, are deemed vulnerable to mobile network fraud and poor network quality.  any focus group participants reported being victims of fraud, including being overcharged for calls, airtime credits “disappearing” from their total balance, being charged for undelivered SMS or for unwanted ringtones. All of these create suspicion about services delivered through mobile phones, including mobile money.

The solution

Communication can go some way in replicating success stories like M-PESA in Kenya, servicing 15 million Kenyans, but mobile money providers will need to embark on:

  • consumer educational campaigns to emphasize the security features of mobile money services, including the mechanisms in place that provide safe and restricted access to user accounts and transactions.
  • raise brand awareness through additional advertising and brand engagement campaigns
  • conduct educational campaigns to inform users about the transaction process, product availability, key features and service reliability.

If you want users to use the service, you have to give them a compelling reason to do so, such as innovative engagement and promotion ideas that will incentivize consumers to use a mobile account. Once the account is set up and used once, the likelihood is that trust barriers and educational issues would be overcome and they will continue to use it.

Engaging A Mobile Customer

Mobile devices are the future of marketing in the way that computers were 40 years ago. Smartphones and tablets are becoming more powerful and able to do many of the things that were impossible for a handheld device just a decade ago. With internet and the power of a computer in your pocket, you can engage customers and reach parts other channels cannot reach. But when discussing with your digital agency, here are some pointers in getting the best out of this technology in Nigeria.

Design for mobile first

We still get requests for websites, when really the Mobisite should be the first thing to consider. There’s no better example of mobile- first than Nigeria, where according to an independent web analytics firm StatCounter, 88% of the web traffic in Nigeria originate from mobile devices.

7th 22They can often be the same site, made responsive, so that the content is repurposed for different devices, but a rich mobile user experience needs a deep understanding of how people interact with their phones. Usability considerations include screen size, inline images, hyperlinks, font sizes, and page navigation. On a desktop your website can be interacted with a mouse and a keyboard, but on a smartphone users will be tapping, flicking, and swiping their way around your site.

Mobile browsers usually load slower than desktop browsers and this could annoy your readers, so optimising content for faster loading becomes even more important. Shorten the article, remove unnecessary images, focus on simplicity. With less bells and whistles to hide behind, content and rich storytelling become all the more important in keeping your customer engaged.

[Sahara Website and Mobisite]

Make it Local

In many ways, the internet and mobile devices have taken the place of telephone directories like the Yellow Pages. Marketers need to understand that many searches now begin from the internet. They need to make sure their websites and ads contain the local information that people are looking for.

Google has made great strides in Nigeria. Local searches can pull up rich results and people are using them. Local information such as business hours, directions, the store’s address and a link to Google maps are now mandatory. A simple thing like including a “Click to call” can greatly increase your contact rate from the site.

Make it social

People are always looking for good material to share, so make it easy for them to help you spread your message. Pictures are the No. 1 type of content users like to share. In fact, 43 percent of users share photos, while 26 percent of users like to share opinions, status updates and links to articles. Luckily for marketers, 25 percent of users share personal recommendations of things they like, which makes them natural brand advocates.

Designed by Go-Gulf

Don’t underestimate SMS

SMS still has the greatest reach of any mobile application. The phone networks and unscrupulous marketers threaten to make us blind to these messages, through a barrage of unsolicited communication. I have become paranoid about giving out my number lest I get caught up in a near daily cycle of spam messages. A young friend told me recently, “you have to open them to be able to delete them”. I say don’t be tempted with shortterm gain of awareness over the longer-term building of your brand. Permission based lists are always better and with innovations like Flash-2-follow, where customers can register interest by flashing, it has never been easier to build a list of potential customers.

[ad id=”147″]Is there an App for that?

“App vs Web” question will remain a very real consideration for organizations seeking to establish a mobile presence. I think a lot of companies have chosen the wrong direction. If your mobile goals are primarily marketing driven, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily shared between users and found on search engines, then a mobile website is the logical choice.

On the other hand, if your goal is interactive engagement with users, or to provide an application that needs to work more like a computer program than a website, then an app is probably going to be required.

Make it useful or make it fun

An investment in generating useful content will always pay off. After all, the internet is the place we go for information. However, games are one of the most underused media for engagement. I have seen a rise in the sophistication of development in the last year or so as our developers really find their feet.

A message passed in the depth of such an experience will certainly be more “sticky” and when the idea of the game IS the message… well, job done.

Mobile game for SunMap “2-blow” campaign

Make it culturally relevant

Investing the time to really understand the people you want to talk to will ensure that your message is not only understood, but connects emotionally. Of course it all starts with a powerful idea, but a concept that really resonates with your audience requires a high degree of cultural relevance. It can be counter intuitive in the “Global Village” that the internet has helped to create, but I like to focus on the Village aspect, building communities of like minds.

Cultural truths are often more powerful than universal truths, because they build communities; like the in-joke that no one else in the classroom gets. A great example is the Bride price App that went viral, causing quite a stir around the olitically-correct world, but many chuckles across Nigeria, not to mention those that rose up in its defense on blogs across the world.

“Bride price” Web game

Uzoma Okoye is an international award winning Digital engagement specialist, and Managing Creative Director of Etu Odi Communications.He can be reached on

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