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  Artificial Intelligence was once little more than science fiction, stuff that old-school tech nerds predicted would be part of a future ruled by smart devices. That ‘future’ is now upon us: AI, along with Machine Learning (ML) and allied tools is a reality, and there are a growing number of crucial use cases for it.
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The banking industry has particularly been impacted by the rise of AI. Technology is redefining how a lot of that space operates. One well-known example of this in action is the introduction and increased use of chatbots—software that’s designed to have conversations with bank customers much like a human customer service agent would. While these AI-powered bots have begun by handling simpler, more monotonous demands, experts say that it’s only a matter of time until they’re smart enough to totally replace customer-facing human employees. Nigerian banks have joined the AI train and are developing and rolling out chatbot assistants to help their customers with various requests and transactions. This article runs through six of the better-known digital banking chatbots in the country.

Tamada, Access Bank

Tamada is an online ‘digital banker’ that’s built to communicate with Access Bank’s customers, address basic concerns, and take on a number of transactions. These chatbots help with such things as fund transfers, account balance enquiries, airtime purchases, and bill payments. It also lets users access mini-account statements, book loans and investments, locate an ATM, and even check the weather. Tamada is available via a dedicated online chat platform and on Facebook.
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IVY, Fidelity Bank

Ivy is Fidelity Bank’s representative in the race for chatbot supremacy that’s seized Nigeria’s banks. Customers of Fidelity Bank can contact Ivy to have their complaints resolved, open accounts, transfer funds, and pay bills (such as electricity bills, waste management fees, land use charges, etc.).Users can also send their loan applications to Ivy, and ask her to open a fixed deposit account for them. Where the need arises, the bot can connect customers to live (human) agents as well, to have more complex issues addressed. Ivy is available on Facebook and WhatsApp.

Temi, FCMB

First City Monument Bank describes Temi, its chatbot, as the customer’s “financial wingwoman” and “digital bestie.” Temi serves the bank’s many account holders on Facebook, where it helps them fund transfers to family and friends, pay TV subscription fees, check their account balances, and buy airtime of any value below ₦10,000. Persons who want to open an account with FCMB can ask for this to be done too. However, they will have to accept the terms and conditions presented to them on the platform in order to use it.

ZiVA, Zenith Bank

Zenith Bank launched ZiVA, its WhatsApp-based “intelligent virtual assistant,” in 2021. While it has come later to the chatbot party than most, ZiVA has seen a steady increase in the number of people who use its services. Zenith Bank’s customers can rely on it to pay selected bills, buy data on their behalf, transfer funds, check their account statements, and locate ATMs. The chatbot also sends customers’ bank statements to embassies and other financial institutions, log and track complaints, block cards, and freeze accounts. Anyone who wants to open an account with Zenith Bank can ask ZiVA to do this for them as well.
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Leo, UBA

UBA’s Leo kick-started the banking industry’s chatbot race when it came on the scene in 2018. It’s since had the time to improve and has added new features to its original look and functionality. It’s able to send money, make enquiries, link and fund prepaid cards, draw up savings plans and spending limits, link new accounts, log and track complaints, and locate UBA’s branches and ATMs nationwide. In addition to these, Leo also buys data, pays bills, books flights, and even fetches football highlights. It currently has 3 million users across five platforms—WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, Apple Messages, and Google Business Chat.

Oxygen, Keystone Bank

Keystone’s virtual banker provides users with “a fun way to the bank while chatting.” It promises the bank’s customers easy navigation and a modern aesthetic. With Oxygen, they can send money to accounts (whether it’s theirs or those of others, within and between banks), pay bills, purchase airtime, and buy movie tickets. The public can access Oxygen on Facebook Messenger and Telegram. However, intending users have to register on the Keystone Bank app in order to use this service.

Final Words

Chatbots have come to stay. We can expect them to get smarter over time, and take on a broader range of tasks in the future. It will be interesting to see how they evolve in Nigeria’s unique banking environment. Featured Image Source: CX Today
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This article was first published on 19th November 2022


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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