First Bank: Fast Tracking the next generation ATM





The challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to both the Nigeria and global economy in 2020, became an innovative opportunity for  First Bank of Nigeria which came up with Fast Track ATM, the next generation ATM, the first of its type in Africa. AMAKA IFEAKANDU looks at the benefits customers stand to gain. .

COVID-19 as  new opportunities

There is no denying the fact that despite its debilitating effects and disruption of the world economy in 2020, the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic opened new vistas and opportunities for innovation in Fintech across the globe.

Clearly, the rapid spread of the virus led to the complete shutdown of economic activities, including markets, local and international airports, hospitals, churches, schools and most small businesses in Nigeria and across the globe. This worrying development brought to the fore the importance of e-banking in the country.

Against this backdrop, financial institutions, especially the nation’s commercial banks, were encouraged to explore and deploy online banking services for customers with majority of the staff having to work from home as directed by their managements. Though this directive for banks officials to operate from home promoted, to some extent, the upsurge in technological developments within the financial system, the situation became a threat to some bank customers, especially those with no access to mobile applications to conduct transactions. 

No doubt, the situation made things difficult for these customers as it caused a major disruption to their livelihoods arising from restrictions of movement at both the federal and state levels. 

Blessing in disguise?  

However, this sudden shutdown of the economy also proved a blessing in disguise, as the nation’s financial industry became more innovative with the launch of different electronic applications aimed at meeting the customers’ demands  as well as reduce physical human contact as part of hygienic protocols to check the spread of the  pandemic in the system.

The economic hardship arising  from COVID-19 automatically changed the lifestyle of individual bank customers with some of them having no option than to embrace electronic banking App for payment of goods and services.

First Bank Innovation in e-banking 

Expectedly, First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Limited,  the nation’s premier commercial bank, was among the financial institutions that came up with a new App which  enabled its customers to use their phones in initiating the process of cash withdrawals from their various bank accounts at the comfort zone of their home. In a pacesetting move, the Bank unveiled the FastTrack ATM, a Next Generation ATM, the first of its kind in Africa.

Launched as part of its effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the First Bank Fast Track ATM is fully designed to promote financial activities on the ATM and  devoid of any form of physical interaction with the machine.

According to the bank, the introduction of the FastTrack ATM, done in partnership with Inlaks, enables customers to carry out cash withdrawals without having to touch the interface of the ATM.

Operations of Fast Track ATM

The bank also explained that with  the FastTrack ATM, widely referred to as ‘Touchless Solution‘, the customer carries out the banking  transaction by using his or her mobile phone to perform the needed steps designed originally for implementation on the ATM

By using one’s phone, the transaction is carried out – in advance – through the Bank’s USSD or mobile banking option. Upon the schedule, the customer visits the FastTrack ATM to complete the transaction by tapping a contactless Near Field Communication (NFC) card on the ATM to withdraw his or her cash

With the next Generation ATM, First Bank customers can the real-time mobile banking capabilities of their cell phones to activate cash withdrawals at the FastTrack ATM. The ATM solution is the bank’s response to control the spread of COVID-19, whilst promoting the safety of customers that carry out transactions at the ATM.

Benefits  

Speaking on benefits of the Fast Track ATM, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan said: “At First Bank, we are driven to provide seamless financial solutions to ensure our customers are able to timely carry out their transactions in safe, secured, and efficient ways, thereby putting them ahead in digital banking, not just in Nigeria but Africa.

“We are delighted to set the pace regarding the use of the Next Generation ATM in Africa which enables customers to use their mobile phones to remotely initiate ATM-based cash withdrawals via our *894# USSD banking or FirstMobile application. At the core of our strategy lies innovation which is critical to adapting to the new normal.” 

Also, Managing Director, Inlaks, Olufemi Adeoti, said, “given that consumers are more adaptable to mobile technology, Inlaks, Africa’s leading Information Technology Solutions provider, together with Hyosung ATM OEM entered into partnership with First Bank to introduce the first fully compliant COVID-19 FinTech ATM. 

“This is in alignment with the ‘new normal’ desired customer experience which includes digitalization and delivering secure contactless cash access to the bank’s FirstMobile customers for better user experience, simplicity, speed, and conveniences.” 

Achievements in card issuing

Apart from launching of Fast Track ATM, the bank has been at the forefront of promoting digital payment in the country. The bank was recognized as the first financial institution in Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region to issue 10 million ATM cards to customers across the country. The bank was the second in Africa to achieve the milestone.

The bank achieved these  feats  through the trusts in its industry-leading innovative banking solutions by over 10 million customers on its USSD *894# banking platform.

Since its establishment in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership. 

The bank, has over the years, led the financing of private investments in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by playing key roles in the federal government’s  privatisation and commercialisation schemes. 

With its global reach, First Bank provides prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand and a credible financial partner.