June 06, (THEWILL) – Africa’s Global Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc is poised for market dominance in the financial services industry going by the quantum leap it has recorded in technology – both in investment and in revenue. The bank’s annual reports for the past five years which showed remarkable growth in innovation and adoption of technology for its operations, attest to this.
Data from the Tier-1 Bank’s annual reports for FY 2017-2021 and for the Q1 2022 showed significant revenue growth from the technological platforms where it had also made robust investments towards pursuit of market dominance among its peers. Earning and investment windows in the annual reports, such as E-Banking, IT-Support and Training and Human Capital Development, revealed a quantum leap in Technology and related operations of the bank during the period.
Specifically, the bank’s E-Banking Income rose to N64.55 billion in 2021 from a meagre N20.93 billion in 2017, reflecting 208.5 percent. The quantum leap in revenue yield was consistent during the period: N27.93 billion in 2018 (33.5 percent rise); N38.77 billion in 2019 (reflecting 38.9 percent jump); N44.75 billion in 2020 (or a 15.43 percent increase) and N64.60 billion in 2021 (representing a spike of 44.38 percent).
For Q1 2022, E-Banking Income rose to N15.12 billion as against N12.46 billion in the corresponding period of 2021, reflecting a growth of 21.4 percent.
Investment in Technology also climbed steadily, recording a 285 percent increase during the five-year period. The bank’s E-Banking Expenditure rose from mere N15.00 billion in 2017 to N23.76 billion in the following year, 2018, showing an increase of 58.5 percent. In 2019, investment in E-Banking window rose by 19.8 percent to N28.46 billion; while N44.34 billion was recorded in 2020 showing a 55.8 percent; to peak at N57.75 billion in 2021 or 30.25 percent increase.
For Q1 2022 period, E-Banking Expenditure rose by 10 percent to N15 billion year-on-year from 13.52 billion.
The revenue haul in technology-related operations of the bank reflected in the Fees & Commission Income which showed an exponential growth of 92 percent during the five-year survey period. The data showed an increase of 13.4 percent from N82.94 billion in 2017 to N94 billion in 2018. It jumped to N110.57 billion in 2019 and N126.95 billion in 2020, reflecting an increase of 17.7 percent and 14.9 percent respectively. The bank raked in the sum of N158.65 billion in 2021 which was an increase of 25 percent during the year.
For Q1 2022, the bank’s Fees & Commission Income rose to N42.2 billion from N35.00 billion in the corresponding period of 2021, representing a 20.5 percent increase.
Further analysis of UBA’s technology-related performance during the period showed that IT Support & Related Expenditure increased from N5.52 billion in 2017 to N5.68 billion in 2018, an increase of 2.9 percent. It rose steadily to N6.1 billion and N6.64 billion reflecting a rise of 7.4 percent and 8.9 percent respectively. Investment on IT Support & Related Expenditure climbed to a high of N8.2 billion in 2021, which showed an increase of 23.5 percent.
“It shows that UBA is committed to excellence in technological-driven operations which is the way to go, because we are approaching a stage where financial institutions that lag in cutting-edge technology will gradually close shop without being told. The rapidly diminishing of branch services, especially in non-urban areas points to a future of modern technology and, usually, the value that accrues from value-added activities goes to the one that provides the value,” said Kehinde Komolafe, an ICT expert.
UBA recorded significant expenditure in Training & Human Capital Development during the period: N1.60 billion, N1.32 billion and N3.74 billion in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. During the 2020 COVID-19 year, it spent N709 million and N1.77 billion in the following year – 2021. The advancement in technology-driven operations reflected in a robust bottom line during the five-year period when profit after tax (PAT) rose to N118.68 billion in 2021 from moderate returns of N78.6 billion in 2017, or 51 percent increase. The bank reported a PAT increase of 8 percent from N38.2 billion in Q1 2021 to N41.5 billion in Q1 2022.
Digital banking has been the talk of the industry over the years and Nigerians continue to invest in cutting-edge technology that would make banking convenient and accessible to their customers in the most innovative way, irrespective of where they are or the time of the transaction.
UBA recently disclosed that it has concluded plans to commemorate the 4th anniversary of ‘Leo’, its flagship artificial intelligence Chabot, with new offerings set to further change the face of digital banking in Nigeria
“Birthed January 11, 2018, with a firm resolve to prioritise its customers as well as put the bank at the heart of disruptive technologies that will transform the experience of esteemed customers, UBA did the unthinkable by getting 3 million users hooked in less than three years of its inception.”
Leo, which the bank stressed, has proven to be the most formidable artificial intelligence chat bot till date; serving an ever-increasing customer base who now have less transaction hassles to worry about is currently available on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat
To further extend its reach, UBA has concluded plans to commence Leo services on Instagram and Google Business, terrains none of its peers can lay claim to.
Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, affirmed that UBA customers indeed agree that Leo is one of the bank’s biggest investments in cutting-edge technology and has been steadily changing the face of banking in the continent.
“Three years later, and with over almost four million customers and counting, UBA’s Leo, has without a doubt, remained the smartest Banking Chatbot in Nigeria because of its speed and quick learning intelligence and has continued to evolve with plenty to offer its teeming customers.
“While other financial institutions are still trying to find their feet as regards Artificial Intelligence, we can proudly say that our Leo has become a massive success as it continues to consolidate on its successes and accolades, winning several awards in a short while of its existence,” he added.
Uzoka continued: “In just four years, Leo’s landmark achievements have been indeed overwhelming, covering 20 African countries as well as garnering over 10 prestigious awards globally, a feat that is exceptional by every standard, I must say we are proud of Leo’s intimidating achievements which is largely unbeatable”.
“With this in mind, we have ensured that Leo continues to enjoy periodic and systematic upgrades with special emphasis on enhanced advancements and specialised unique features where necessary”.
Uzoka further explained that Leo is already present in 20 African countries and in three languages and has a number of features bound to fascinate existing and potential customers with services that are extremely fast and secure as all transactions and enquiries are encrypted, end-to-end.
“Leo has the ability to do a wide range of things, including funds transfer, call card top-up, checking of account balance, retrieval of bank statements, instant account openings for new customers, statement to embassy/other banks/microfinance, purchase of airtime/ data, paying of bills, effectively helping with savings and spend limit.
“The AI Chatbot also boasts of remarkable innovative features that allow customers to enjoy banking Services – Request/stop/confirm Cheques, Block card, Log & track complaints, ATM/Branch Locator, Freeze accounts, and check weather etc. Other features include Customer Care complaint resolution, linking of new accounts, flight Payment, linking and Funding of Prepaid Card, Travel Notification, Wakanow services and Dubai Visa service,” he explained.
It could be recalled that UBA was adjudged as the ‘Most innovative Digital Bank’ of the year 2018, in the digital category of the International Finance Awards organised by the International Finance Magazine.