With this capability to respond to chats/queries anchored on the existing WhatsApp platform, customers will be able to open new accounts, receive instant transaction notifications, check their balances, transfer funds and top up airtime. They will also be able to confirm check, pay bills, apply for loans, block their accounts, and request mini statements, amongst other banking services. Commenting on the new banking solution, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu said: “The launch of ZIVA is driven by the need for additional secured channels of communication, with our customers, as we deepen our retail penetration”.
Speaking further on the WhatsApp chatbot, Onyeagwu noted that, “Since the behavioral pattern of the modern customer dictates that they want to engage with brands over the channel of their choice, it was really important for us, as a leading financial services institution, and a pioneer of several technological innovations in the financial services industry, to implement this solution in order to continue to create value for our teeming customers, who incidentally were already using WhatsApp as a primary channel of communication”.
Meanwhile, in a clear demonstration of its resilience, the bank announced its audited results for the half-year ended 30 June 2021. Despite the challenging macroeconomic environment, exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic, it recorded positive growth across key financial metrics. It recorded a growth in profit before tax of 3% from NGN114 billion reported in H1 2020 to NGN117 billion in H1 2021. It also recorded a 9% growth in non-interest income from NGN116 billion in June 2020 to NGN127 billion in June 2021. Overall, the significant reduction in interest expense by 26% and growth in non-interest income by 9% culminated to improved profitability. The bank’s retail journey continues to deliver positive results as retail deposits grew by NGN38.2 billion from NGN1.72 trillion to NGN1.76 trillion year-to-dates (YTD). Savings balances grew marginally by 2% YTD to close at NGN1.18 trillion from NGN1.16 trillion as at December 2020. The drive for increased retail deposits and a low-interest yield environment helped reduce the cost of funding from 2.2% to 1.3% in the current period. Operating expenses grew by 10% YTY, but growth remains below the inflation rate, while the bank improved its Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew 2% from NGN3.30 to NGN3.38 for the half-year ended June 2021.