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Heritage Bank Joins WHO To Advocate Elimination Of Malaria Endemic By 2030

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Heritage Bank Plc has joined the world to commemorate the 2020 World Malaria Day, amid fears that paying much emphasis on the novel Coronavirus Pandemic could reinforce progress on the mosquito-borne disease, especially in Africa.

The theme of the World Malaria Day 2020, is entitled, “Zero Malaria Starts with Me,” which is a grassroots campaign, first launched in Senegal in 2014.

In canvassing for the fight against the malaria scourge and calling on all stakeholders to take proactive action in renewing their focus on eliminating malaria by 2030 as targeted by World Health Organisation, the MD/CEO of the bank, Ifie Sekibo said that zero malaria starts with every one of us working together for a more prosperous and healthy future for all.

This call is coming against the backdrop of the global rise in malaria cases with the recent warning by WHO that the number of deaths caused by malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa could double to 769,000 this year, as efforts to curb the disease are disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to WHO, in 2018, there were 213 million malaria cases and 360,000 related deaths in the African region, accounting for over 90 percent of global cases. The WHO said if the focus on slowing the spread of the new virus leads to a reduction by three-quarters of access to anti-malaria medicines, deaths could double to 769,000.

“Countries across the region have a critical window of opportunity to minimize disruptions in malaria prevention and treatment and save lives at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak,” the WHO said in a statement. It further alarmed that the doubling of the number of deaths represents the worst-case scenario, which also assumes the suspension of all distribution of treated mosquito nets due to the pandemic.

However, Sekibo stated that malaria in Nigeria and Africa as a whole has been an unceasing prevalence and dilemma for communities, posing a challenge that has made eradication seem almost impossible.

In his call for collaboration to eliminate the disease in various societies, Sekibo emphasized that to attain the global targets on malaria and the goals of Nigeria’s national malaria tactical plan would only be feasible through greater investment and expanded coverage of core tools to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria.

Sekibo stated that as part of the bank drive to support the fight against malaria, Heritage Bank proposes to focus on how malaria makes people susceptible to the present pandemic (COVID-19) in the world, whilst sensitizing the public on its social media platforms on COVID-19 as it relates to malaria. He further hinted that the overly concerns of exposure to COVID-19, like malaria and the virus, have some symptoms in common which include fever, headache, and body pain, hence measures are normally taken for malaria interventions have been suspended, which leaves vulnerable population (pregnant women and children) at a greater risk of contracting it. Sekibo stressed that early detection of malaria and proper management will reduce the mortality risk associated with COVID-19, whilst noting that community sensitization and mobilization around the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of malaria is of great importance.

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Zenith Beta Life Promo Is Still On!

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Zenith Beta Life Promo is still on, don’t miss this golden opportunity to have a better life!

Please visit www.zenithbank.com/betalife to learn more.

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Africa Fintech Foundry To Boost Innovation And ‘Techpreneurs’ With 2021 ‘Accelerator’ Programme

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Africa’s foremost innovation hub, the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), has opened up its registration portal for the 2021 Accelerator program.

The initiative, which is being executed in partnership with Access Bank Plc, seeks to fast-track the growth of the best start-ups operating within the African technology ecosystem. The ‘Accelerator’ programme will fast track and assist the selected start-ups to navigate issues such as start-up pricing and competitiveness, creating endearing customer experiences, support and retention, hiring and people management, scaling for growth and product development cycle fundamentals amongst others.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, the Head of the Africa Fintech Foundry, Daniel Awe, said, “Research has shown that 90% of start-ups fail due to various reasons such as lack of funding, being in the wrong market, a lack of research, misaligned partnerships, ineffective marketing, and poor competitive positioning to name a few.  90% is a high percentage rate of failure. This indicates that many things need to go right for a business to succeed. Enabling start-ups to grow, scale and remain relevant in the tech space is where we play a major role as AFF.”

“Since its establishment, the Africa Fintech Foundry has progressively demonstrated leadership in the areas of innovation, financial technology, and entrepreneurship. We recognize the vast array of talent possessed by Africans and the wider global players and the immense potential that our technological start-ups have.

Hence, through the Accelerator programme, we will be providing cohorts with mentorship and clinic hours from leading entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts. They will also get access to funding, unrivaled business insights, access to markets, and networking opportunities with our partners at various stages of the program,” he said.

The AFF Accelerator programme will span 12 weeks, with formal and informal mentorship from established founders, investors, and pioneers across various industries.

Ade Bajomo, Access Bank’s Executive Director for Information Technology and Operations, highlighted the need for increased corporate investment in tech-focused capacity building initiatives.  He said “Technology can serve as the catalyst for solving many of the problems faced across various industries. We also believe that it holds the potential to resolve social and economic challenges faced across the African continent.  Therefore, as Africa’s gateway to the world, we have partnered with the continent’s leading accelerator, the Africa Fintech Foundry, to create a platform that will nurture the brightest minds, providing them the needed resources to develop and scale their projects, to the benefit of all.

Start-ups to be considered for admission into the programme include those that: have a tech-enabled solution; offer a unique solution or unique application in a regional setting; have a cross-functional team with a deep understanding of the market – which includes technical lead(s) and founder(s) that are fully committed to the business; have a defensible position (IP; network effects; domain or region expertise); have been in operations for at least 6 months, amongst others.

Interested participants can visit www.africafintechfoundry.com for more information. Those who meet the required criteria will be required to fill an online application. Entry deadline has been disclosed as Saturday, 31 January 2020.

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UBA’s LEO: Celebrating Three Years of Revolutionized Banking Services

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Technology has been a veritable gift to mankind, and over the years, it has been responsible for creating amazingly useful resources that put all the information individuals need at their fingertips. The development of technology has also led to so many mind-blowing discoveries, better facilities, and better luxuries, which has, in turn, helped to improve lifestyle and standard of living.

For instance, through relevant technological development, the average individual has been empowered to shop online and carry out seamless transactions any time of the day or night from the comfort of his own home or business place.

To this end, forward-thinking companies and financial institutions with eyes in the future who have been conversant with the new trend in customer behavior, have painstakingly designed new products and services tailor-made to meet the growing needs of customers anytime anywhere.

It is bearing this in mind that Pan-African Financial Institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, changed the face of e-banking in the African continent for the first time with the introduction of Leo – UBA’s Chat Banker. The idea of Leo, which was birthed in 2018, was to enable customers to make use of their social media accounts to carry out key banking transactions with ease.

This is the first time ever that a financial institution in Africa evolved a one-stop solution to simplify the way customers transact, a key essential in today’s fast-paced world with demands for quick-time transactions and response.

With Leo’s help, customers have been able to open new accounts with ease, receive instant transaction notifications, check their balances on the go, transfer funds, and airtime top-up. Cheque confirmation, bill payments, loan application, account freezing, request for mini statements, flight bookings, airtime, and data purchases, are some other services that the chat banking BOT has been helping customers to carry out since 2018.

And Leo, the Artificial Intelligent Bot which carries out seamless conversations with his customers – who he calls his friends by the way- has achieved this and more in its three-year existence; allowing users to carry out a quick, fast, and recurring transaction with ease from their popular social media accounts such as Facebook and Whatsapp.

No wonder the bank has earned a lot of laurels and accolades in the last three years confirming Leo’s global acceptance and recognitions, as pointed out by UBA’s Group Managing Director, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, some of which are:

‘Africa’s Best Digital Bank of the year’ by Euromoney; The Most; Innovative Bank of the Year’ by International Finance; ‘Best Customer Engagement Tool’ by Africa Fintech; Pulse magazine rated Leo on WhatsApp as ‘The best WhatsApp Banking App’; ‘The Best Social Banking platform’ in Uganda; ‘Excellence in Automated Chatbot Initiative’ by Finnovex Awards; ‘Next Generation Class of 2019’ by CIBN; ‘Best Automated Chatbot Initiative, Application or Programme’ by The Asian Banker. The list is endless.

“The formulation of this product, is consistent with UBA’s Customer 1st philosophy, where we have been doing things not the way we like, but focusing on what the customers want, where they want it, and in the exact platform they want it; Uzoka explained. “At UBA, we have been continuously working with technology giants that have the global capacity to ensure not only seamless but also effortless banking for the millions of our customers across Africa; as all the bank’s subsidiaries in Africa have activated Leo to perform financial services for customers.

Continuing, he said, “Since 2018, Leo has been helping with most transactions and to deliver any form of banking services. And this has been highlighted more especially during the lockdown occasioned by the COvid-19 virus, as Leo assisted all its users on all major social media platforms to carry out all their banking activities without having to physically visit a branch. This, to us, remains an admirable feat because, with Leo, the banking needs of our customers have become easy and simple – as simple as chatting”; Uzoka pointed out.

Within three years of operations, UBA’s Leo has recorded a number of milestones including opened a total of 390,756 accounts; achieving 2,169,384 subscribers; conducting a total of 9,605,703 transaction count worth a value of N81,530,918,868. Leo which has over 2.1m unique users has also generated over 20 million conversations and over 85 million engagements; with such impressive feedback and usage and remains the only AI BoT showcased at the F8 in Mark Zuckerberg’s opening remarks.

UBA’s Group Head, Digital Banking, Sampson Aneke, reiterated that Leo is not just a chat machine, but an artificial intelligence personality meant to address any type of banking concerns raised by customers.

“Leo has been operating a secure lifestyle banking platform on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and IOS and Andriod to assist customers with their transactions while chatting with your friends and business partners. The security with this platform has been that for every transaction, a One Time Password (OTP) is generated to the phone number that is registered on your account,” he explained and added that the bank is working tirelessly to improve LEO’s services to the customers in the coming weeks.

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-one million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touchpoints, in 20 African countries. With its presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance, and ancillary banking services.

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