Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ADB, the new face in e-banking transactions

Ghana’s banking sector is gradually moving towards achieving slip-free banking to provide superior and convenient services and to excel in competition, Ekow Essabra-Mensah writes.

The convenience of electronic banking (e-banking) has slowly weaned many people off writing traditional cheques. Although some people refuse to rely on electronic banking, there are a variety of benefits to using it over traditional pen and paper.

In recent times the adoption of e-banking has in one way or another greatly benefitted the ordinary customer in general and the corporate world in particular - and this has resulted in the creation of a better enabling environment that supports growth, productivity and prosperity.

This development ensures that banks don't have to keep their branches open 24-hours a day to provide this service. This is one of the biggest advantages of the e-banking platform.

Mr. Solomon Adu Atefoe, Manager, E-Banking Sales & Marketing at the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), explained that the country’s banking sector is gradually moving towards the adoption of a slip-free banking era wherein the financial sector will undertake transactions without the introduction of paper slips or document.

He again explained that this development is the way forward for the country’s changing face in the banking sector. The new strategy in banking now is electronic banking, wherein banks are assiduously developing technology for online transaction processing in which the customer can go directly into his or her account.

Mr. Atefoe mentioned that the ADB, as part of its innovative corporate strategies, has initiated a number of electronic banking products aimed at embracing the new order in banking system and also ensuring easy banking transactions which are more convenient and have become an acceptable module in global financial transaction.

ADB’s e-banking proposition

A review of ADB’s electronic offerings indicate a very wide range of electronic banking products/services differentiated for specific needs and developed with the goal to provide superior ease and convenience for customer transactions. For the bank, also, the wide range of electronic products are proportionate to the bank’s branchless banking retail strategy, which does not limit banking services to normal banking hours or the Bank’s branches only.

With ADB’s electronic offering, customers are equipped to carry out several transactions on their mobile phones, manage accounts on the Internet, or use any of the Automated Teller Machines (ATM) on the bank’s branch network across the country.

ATM Services (QuicCash)
ADB is one of the first banks in the country to introduce ATM Services onto the Ghanaian market. The Bank currently has over 60 ATM’s strategically located nationwide which offer a comprehensive range of services: such as Cash Withdrawals, Mini-statements, Fast Cash, Personal Identification Number Change, and Funds Transfer within Accounts.

The ATMs are also configured to offer services in such a way as to provide full card security management for the cardholder, thereby creating a personalised approach to banking. This explains why cardholders are capable of changing their Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) at the ATM machine at any point in time, once deemed necessary. This is intended to give customers higher levels of confidence in the security of their transactions through the ATM machine as all transactions are validated using the PIN only known to the customer.

ADB QuicPay
This service allows for single or multiple payments, including school fees mobilisation. It was recently used to pioneer school fees for seven Universities and some Polytechnic institutions. The model is expected to be replicated for institutions that receive regular payments in the ensuing years.

This transaction enables customers to pay school fees and other collections the smart way, using all ADB extensive retail outlets. This is a near real-time payment solution offered to educational institutions and businesses with a large clientele to use all ADB branches to receive payments due them on a single platform. This online payment solution, which is very simple, has been designed to improve the efficiency and transparency of current payment system.

All one needs is a computer and a stable Internet connection to enjoy near real-time viewing of all payments into your accounts. QUIC Pay is a solution to students and institutions.

These services makes ADB a thought-leader in electronic payments as the bank continues to leverage on current and emerging technologies to bring banking closer to its customers.

SMS Alert (QuicAlert) and Email Alert (QuicMail)

ADB’s QuicAlert is another partial SMS-based electronic banking service from the Bank. Customers that subscribe to the QuicAlert service get regular SMS and/or email alerts on real-time basis for selected transactions that are carried out in their accounts. The essence is to update customers regularly on transactions that pass through their accounts, thus making it possible for them to alert the Bank over any fraudulent transactions. Subscribers receive notification on all cash withdrawals, deposits made, loan payments, utility payments and so on.

The Alert service also makes it possible for the customer to receive monthly statements electronically and allows Bank staff to communicate with customers via SMS/email.

This platform allows customers to receive prompt SMS Alerts on any banking transaction anytime, anywhere. Signing up is as simple as providing an account number and phone number.

Services include Receive notifications on credits and debits on account; Notifications when customer’s ATM cards and cheque books are ready; Salary payments notifications and ATM withdrawal notifications and any other.

ADB’s Mobile Phone Financial Services

This platform has been developed to ensure convenience in banking, irrespective of the location at any time, using mobile phone with MTN Mobile Money, TiGo Cash and Zain Zap among others. ADB, in collaboration with most of the telecommunication companies, offers convenient cash transactions in a secured environment using mobile handsets.

Services include Airtime top-up; Funds transfer; Bill payments; and Airtime transfer.

ADB Internet Banking (QuicNet)

QuicNet is an online and real-time banking service, offering both individuals and business a range of banking services and account management tools that are timely, accurate and reliable.

QuicNet enables clients access to their accounts from anywhere in the world to view and verify transactions on accounts. Subscribers can also carry out the following transactions on QuicNet: View Loans and Deposits; Full Statements Download to aid reconciliation; Account Balance & Transaction Inquiry; Own and third-party transfers; Confirm cheque; Cash-in-Transit; Bank Drafts request; Cheque Book request.

To subscribe, clients only need an account with ADB and Internet access and they can begin to gain operational and financial control over their personal or business accounts - either from the comfort of their offices, homes, or anywhere else in the world.

The interface of QuicNet is extremely user-friendly, and clients are easily linked to their accounts to access account information. This way, they can perform a range of banking activities simply, quickly and securely. The service will be officially unveiled for operation by close of the year.

Payments of utility bills
The Payment of Utility Bills service allows customers to make regular bill payments at any ABD Bank Branch, at their convenience. Notable among these are both prepaid and post-paid settlement of the Electricity Company of Ghana, DSTV bills among others.

This facility, which is currently available in some selected regions, will be fully operational among the bank’s branch network located in all the regions in the country.

All these products are aimed at providing the customer with best experience and value for money at ADB.

uniBank Ghana gives to Ashiaman Flood Victims

uniBank Ghana Limited has donated items valued at GH¢4,000 to the Ashiaman flood victims.

The items included 32 boxes of tinned tomatoes, 20 bags of rice, 10 boxes of cooking oil and seven bags of used clothing.

David Nyanteh, the Ashiaman Branch Manager, said as a bank it does not only operate for profit but also supports the society in which it operates.

“As part of our corporate social responsibility, we as a bank support developmental projects - especially in the areas where we operate. The Bank was compelled by the request made by the flood victims to donate the items, which will go in a long way to wipe their tears.”

Andre Asare Boadu, Corporate Affairs Executive of the Bank, pledged the bank’s support to society, especially the needy, emphasising that people should see uniBank as a bank that partners the under-privileged in society.

Numo Adinortey, Municipal Chief Executive who received the items on behalf of the disaster committee, commended uniBank for its kind gesture and urged other banks to emulate it - adding that all banks should endeavour to partner with the communities they operate in to enhance development.

Best Western Hotels opened in Accra and Nigeria

Best Western International Hotels has officially opened its newly-built four-star hotel in Accra near the Kotoka International Airport.

The Hotel, Best Western Premier Accra Airport Hotel, has 89 rooms and 24 suites, with each guestroom featuring free high-speed Internet access, mini-bars, flat-screen LCD televisions and bathrobes.

It is a newly-built four-star hotel located in Accra’s most affluent area, five minutes from the Kotoka International Airport.

The Hotel’s centrepiece is its five-story atrium decorated with African art. It offers a 24-hour concierge service, complimentary airport transportation and an on-site restaurant, bar and jazz club.

Best Western International Hotels has also expanded its presence in two other locations in Nigeria - namely the Best Western Island Hotel in Lagos and the Best Western Port Harcourt Hotel in Port Harcourt.

Suzi Yoder, Vice President of International Operations, said: “Best Western membership is a great option for hotel developers in Africa, who want to retain local character in their properties, yet leverage the sales, marketing and brand recognition of a strong global brand.

“We see great potential for continued growth in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in nations like Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.”

The Best Western Island Beach Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, is also newly-constructed. The property is located in the heart of Lagos’ financial and business hub on Victoria Island’s Bar Beach, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.

The hotel’s 142 guestrooms and suites offer free high-speed Internet access, mini-bars and 32-inch flat-screen televisions. The hotel also offers an on-site restaurant and cocktail lounge with free breakfast and 24-hour room service.

The Best Western Port Harcourt Hotel in Port Harcourt was opened in 2008 and recently received significant upgrades that will help it earn Best Western’s “Premier” status this year.

The hotel offers 89 guestrooms and suites and meeting space for up to 200 people. On-site amenities include a restaurant, cocktail lounge, fitness centre, gift shop and outdoor pool. Guests receive complimentary high-speed Internet access and free breakfast.

Best Western International, Incorporated is the world's largest hotel chain, providing marketing, reservations and operational support to over 4,000 independently owned and operated Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier hotels in 80 countries and territories worldwide.

An industry pioneer since 1946, Best Western has grown into an iconic brand that hosts 400,000 worldwide guests each night.

Equally committed to the business and leisure traveller, Best Western recently embarked on a mission to lead the hotel industry in customer-care.