Unity Bank Plc has launched an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, USSD banking in Nigeria’s three major languages, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. This makes Unity Bank the first Nigerian commercial bank to offer USSD in a local language.
USSD transactions have gained traction over the past five years among bank customers, compelling Nigerian financial institutions to make it a core component of their e-payment solutions.
According to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBBS USSD transactions grew by 35 per cent in 2018 to N261 million from 25 per cent in 2017. The introduction of Nigerian languages is an added feature to the Unity Bank’s USSD Platform and by dialling the Short Code: *7799# on any mobile phones, Unity Bank’s customers will now have the option to continue their transactions in any of their preferred languages.
A statement by the Bank adds that “the upgrade in the features of the transaction platform is part of Unity Bank’s initiatives aimed at achieving an optimal level of interaction on the USSD banking channel. It is targeted at market segments at the lower level of the pyramid intended to drive greater financial inclusion in the country as well as deploy more solutions for fast, efficient and convenient banking, whilst targeting the underbanked”.
Commenting on the initiative, the Group Head, Retail, SME & E-Business, Unity Bank Plc, Olufunwa Olugbenga Akinmade said that the solution will boost the existing e-payment channels available to the bank’s customers to further drive customer experience.
He stated that it would also help to deepen mobile payment and contribute to Nigeria’s drive to meet the 80 per cent financial inclusion target this year. “What we have done is to expand the channel of access to our offerings. Nigeria’s teledensity, according to the Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC, is at 91.1 per cent as of 2019. This means that a solution like this will resonate with millions of Nigerians who are more comfortable transacting in their local languages,” he said.
He added: “This solution has now added to the bouquet of mobile solutions the bank has introduced recently to cater for the youth, mass market and MSMEs as we move to promote retail and SME business by enhancing mobile payment solutions to meet the needs of our customers.”