Shock Value

Shock Value

The Nigerian economy, like any other, experiences “shocks”— events or policy decisions that can send a ripple of changes through the system. This column zooms in on these ripples in a range of sectors to explore how and why these shocks matter.

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Social Banking: Cashing out on Facebook Accounts

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi is an avid reader seeking insights in unexpected places. Her research interests include economic development, political economy and trade.

A friend of mine recently had an issue with his ATM card. Some fraudulent charges had been made on his account using the card and he had tried calling his bank’s customer service line and sending emails, all to no avail. Frustrated, he posted his complaint on the bank’s Facebook page. The matter was resolved within a few hours.

Customer service is just one of the ways in which Nigerian banks have begun interacting with their customers via social media. Despite initially being slow to embrace this avenue of communication, many Nigerian banks have begun to see its benefits and some are now going further than anticipated.

In 2013, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) launched its social banking platform, which enables people to open bank accounts through Facebook. With the Instant Account option, a registrant can get a new account number within minutes, without having to go to any physical GTBank location. These accounts offer limited but essential services: airtime recharge, money transfer, bill payment, and account balance requests. United Bank for Africa (UBA) followed suit in 2014, by launching transaction alerts through direct messages on Twitter. In March this year, the bank began offering a full account service on Facebook called U-Social, similar to GTBank's social banking platform.

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