Despite the escalating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on every sector of the economy, financial institutions have assured their customers of uninterrupted services.
Banks including GTB, Access Bank, First Bank, among others, re-assured their teeming customers via different platforms of continued services during this period.
Statistics from the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) Plc informed that there are 125 million total bank accounts in Nigeria as at January 2020. Out of this, 79 million are active. There are, however, 25 million current account holders, while 96 million people in the country operate savings accounts.
GTB in an electronic mail to its over 18 million customers, appealed to them to stay safe and healthy.
The bank said it had been constantly monitoring the latest news about the coronavirus outbreak and taking all the necessary safety measures to make sure customers continue to “count on us, even in times like these. This includes making all our branches safe for our customers and staying in close engagement with all our staff to make sure that we are on top of any risk of exposure to the outbreak.”
The bank explained that these measures do not affect customers’ access to banking services. “Our banking halls are open and our people are ready to assist you with all your banking needs. We would also like to remind you that you can use more of our online banking channels, as they give you access to all our banking services anywhere, anytime.
“Using our Internet banking platform, mobile banking applications or 737 USSD service, you can send money, pay bills, request for loans and do so much more at home, in your place of work or on the go.
“If you need to make inquiries or complaints about our services, you will also get all the assistance you need on our online Help Centre (visit www.gtbank.com/help-centre), via our WhatsApp Banking Service (Chat with us on 07016974994).”
Access Bank in a document assured of business continuity. The bank informed said in the realization of the fact that banking is a critical service, especially at a time like this, as well as a key driver of the economy, “Our customers will always need access to their funds to pay for goods and services. As there is a possibility, like for every major employer of labor, that staff could be exposed at some point, we have taken steps to ensure back-ups for all essential roles and systems.
“Our Managing Director and Deputy Managing will operate from different locations for the duration of this global crisis.”
For seamless services, the bank said it will be operating from two different data centers, each with the capability to run the entire bank platform and protect the firm’s data. It disclosed that it has put the infrastructure in place and created recovery sites in different locations that will keep the institution protected in the unlikely event there is a complete breakdown.
“At this time online and mobile banking makes more sense than ever before. It allows our customers to carry out their activity while practicing social distancing. We are therefore increasing our sensitization of these services to make sure everyone knows how to use them,” the bank stated.
On its part, First Bank noted that with COVID-19 causing unforeseen disruption to well laid out plans for the year, “we at First Bank would like to reassure you that we care for you and have your interests at heart.”
The bank said it followed best practice international protocols including the recommended health and safety measures by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for keeping the space safe for customers and staff.
First Bank said from March 23, “we will be asking non-essential visitors to our offices to contact us through other digital and online means like telephone, online meetings, teleconferencing, and others. Our branches will remain open though in line with social distancing guidelines, however, only a limited number of customers will be allowed in at a time.”
The bank said it is actively monitoring developments globally and locally around the pandemic and “we commend responses by responsible authorities. Here in Nigeria, we are thankful for the good work being done by the government and the people. But we know that if we must limit the spread of the virus, we must intensify efforts across the board. We have optimized our banking channels to cater for more transactions; urged all customers to embrace cash-less transactions across all self-service platforms like the USSD string *894#, among others.
Polaris Bank also announced the availability of all its digital platforms, targeted at reducing the threat of inter-personal interaction, “our e-channels (Polaris Mobile, *833#Smart Code and PolarisXperience—Internet Banking) will remain active to ensure customers get on-demand service at all times.