Popularity of UBA Chatbanking product Leo soars: Now in 14 countries

By Emmanuel Uffot

The popularity and acceptability of Leo, a unique chatbanking product of UBA continues to increase as the e-banking product which was introduced to the banking public by the foremost first generation bank a year ago is reported to have gone live in 14 countries out of the 20  the bank is operating.

This indication was given recently at the first session of the bank’s week long social media week. Beyond the landmark coverage of the product in the offshore branches of the bank, the subscriber’s profile of Leo since its introduction according to the bank has now swelled to one million on the bank’s mobile app.

The bank’s head of online banking, Augustine Abolusoro, in a presentation during the event titled: “Game of Bots at the Social Media Week 2019, disclosed that Leo was not just the first Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot in Africa but is also a multi-lingual chatbot with capability to speak languages like English, French and Portuguese. He disclosed that plans are underway to include Yoruba and other Nigerian languages in Leo.

The product which industry analysts said has revolutionalise e-banking in Nigeria began with using Facebook Messenger as the chat platform, but the product can now be used on Whatsapp  platform. According to the bank with Leo on WhatsApp, customers who are users and lovers of the app can now perform basic banking services including checking their balances on the go, transferring funds, paying bills, among other services.

Explaining the innovation of Leo on Whatsapp Mr Abolusoro, stated “United Bank for Africa is a technology-driven institution with vast knowledge in the business that we do and Leo, being a tested dependable and intelligent personality, will replicate on WhatsApp, the success it has experienced on the Facebook Messenger platform.  It is a solution that is from the customer’s standpoint, easy to use by anyone regardless of your demography. Leo is ready and waiting to help with any form of banking services,”.

 To use the product on WhatsApp which is expected to further swelled the subscribers portfolio of the product given the fact that Whatsapp has been in existence for over 9 years, reaching more than 1.5 billion people in over 180 countries, customers are expected to add the LEO Whatsapp number: +234 903 000 2455 to their phone contacts, then search for UBA ChatBanking on WhatsApp to start enjoying the added convenience and ease of transacting with Leo on WhatsApp.

Also talking on the rising profile of Leo which has since its introduction place the bank in a distinguished position in the digital banking pedestal, the Managing Director and CEO Kennedy Uzoka in a chat with staff recently on the success of the product among others noted “ We introduced Leo, as an Artificial Intelligence (AI) persona and the first continent as major disruption in Africa’s banking landscape. Leo is a lifestyle and conventional banking companion. It was the only financial service Artificial intelligence chatbot showcased at the 2018 Facebook Conference of CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckurberg, thereby stamping a worldwide acknowledgement and endorsement of Leo. Mr Uzoka said within a short time of the introduction of Leo, it has yielded over 21,000 accounts opened on the Leo’s chatbot. A feat he noted has surpassed the total number of accounts opened in some subsidiaries in 5 years of operation. The bank he stressed will build on the success story of Leo and position it to deliver services that meet the needs of its teeming customers.

Apart from the enumeration of the success story of the chat banking product by the GMD Uzoka and Head of UBA online-banking Abolusoro, many customers of the bank have continued to praise the bank for introducing the product which they conceived has eased banking transactions. Infact some have described Leo ‘as the first among equals of digital banking products’ by banks.

It could be recalled that UBA had unveiled Leo in January 2018 which the GMD said the formulation of the e-banking product was in line with bank’s philosophy of customer first by not doing what the bank likes, but focusing on what the customers want, where they want it and in the exact platform they want it.

The array of services available to subscribers of Leo include opening new accounts, receiving instant transaction notifications, transferring of funds, topping of airtime and checking  their balances through their social media platform.

Other benefits provided by are, enabling customers to confirm  their cheques, payment of bills, application for loans, freezing of accounts and request for mini statements of accounts, among others.

The product which is the first  any bank in Nigeria also has security to protect each transaction. The security with this platform is that for every transaction, an OTP (One Time Password) is generated to the phone number that is registered on the subscribers account.

Leo was launched in January, 2018, to enable customers of the bank have access to select banking services, including account opening, loan application, account balance checking, cheque confirmation, bill payment, account freezing and instant notification.

Basically, the Leo chat banking bot, alternatively called the ‘chat Banker’, is virtually represented by a competent looking male animated figure in its Facebook page.

Indeed Leo is just one of the innovation the Group Managing Director of UBA Kennedy Uzoka has introduced to transform the bank in this digital era since assumption of office August 2016.

Apart from the latest e-banking product from the stable of the bank which is said to be the first by any financial institution in Nigeria or Africa, the bank has over the years churned out array of products to the banking public in its over 70 years of banking operation.

The roll call include, UBA Email Moni, UBA Video Banking, UBA Secure Pass, UBA Internet Banking, UBA Mobile Banking, U-Mobile, the country’s first mobile money services which enables a customer operates account with mobile phone and UBA Magic Banking, a full- fledged banking platform which is enabled by dialing *919# within Nigeria.

Also in the array of UBA products are three trades – related products which it launched in 2010 namely AfriCard, Afritrade and AfriCash.

The bank currently operates in 20 African countries, the latest being the commissioning of full banking services in Mali, in an event that had the President of the Republic of Mali, Mr Ibrahim Aboubacar Keita, Chairman of UBA Tony Elumelu, GMD Uzoka and the CEO UBA Mali, Alhassane Sissoko  as well as top officials of Mali government in attendance.

The bank also has presence in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France.

UBA was incorporated in Nigeria as a limited liability company after taking over the assets of the British and French Bank Limited who had been operating in Nigeria since 1949. The United Bank for Africa merged with Standard Trust Bank in 2005 and from a single country operation founded in 1949 in Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy – UBA has become one of the leading providers of banking and other financial services on the African continent. The Bank provides services to over15 million customers globally, through one of the most diverse service channels in sub-Saharan Africa, with over 1,000 branches, customer touch points and robust online and mobile banking platforms.

 The innovative products and services of the bank have brought it many awards over the years both internationally and in Nigeria. Prominent among this is The Asian Banker Technology Innovation Awards in 2017.

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