ALAT is a branchless bank which offers full banking services digitally. Starting from opening a fully functional bank account within minutes, receiving microloans to creating virtual cards (dollars and naira). Interestingly, you can create a savings deposit with up to 10% in interests. Overall, its service listing is quite interesting and seemingly innovative. Its apps are available on Google Play, Apple App Store and the web (via www.alat.ng). ALAT currently boasts of over 300,000 accounts opened so far and billions in deposits.
An advantage of this system apart is that you can set a monthly spend limit from the app. ALAT allows you to activate and block your cards for use abroad and selecting which channels to activate them. This means you can turn off POS, ATM and web transactions on your cards. It also helps you curb impulsive spending or secure them in the case of loss or theft.
Up until it’s launch in May 2017, Wema Bank was on life support for almost a decade or thereabout. Owing to mismanagement and strict policies provided by the CBN, Wema faced huge problems in the past. Having a very low customer base, it was bound to fail but eventually launched the first digital bank in Nigeria.
Wema Bank made ₦1.57 billion profit within the first half of 2018, a 28.8% increase as against ₦1.22 billion of the half-year of 2017 after it’s launch. The half-year financial statement on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) showed the profit before tax had increased to ₦1.8 billion as of June 2018 from ₦1.4 billion in the same period of 2017.
Customers deposits grew by 39% to ₦354.88 billion (from ₦254.5bn in 2017). There was also a 7% increase in net interest income from ₦9.09 billion for the period ended June 2018 compared to ₦8.48 billion reported for the period ended June 2017. The summary of this whole financial jargons is that Wema Bank had miraculously survived. This was a miraculous move off corporate relegation thanks to ALAT.
As regards its success secrets so far, according to an insider within its management, ALAT is run as a startup under Wema, not as a corporate banking organization. During the build process, they adopted the most creative minds and also provided enough clearance for them to experiment and try innovative processes. Unlike others, the bank management was open towards the youthful and technological approach and it eventually paid off.
Another strategy in making money at ALAT is by cutting down it’s operating costs with fewer spendings. It would ordinarily take a standard bank (like WEMA) more capital to acquire and maintain the same customer base in which ALAT currently holds. It would have required that they opened more branches in different states, furnished it, more manpower and so on. But this digital approach seemed to help ALAT cut down on expenses and be more profitable.
Their very creative approach towards marketing also paid off. They held and sponsored lots of events, made effective use of young and relatable brand reps and rewarded everyone for referrals. So far, I believe their marketing template would always be a very good example in the coming years.
The big lesson Wema Bank has taught us is to be consistent, creative and less discriminatory. Several Nigerian institutions make that very big mistake of excluding the youths in their plans and operations because they fail to see the bigger picture. Moving forward, I believe ALAT could strategically place itself as the official banking system for the Nigerian youths.
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