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Banker and Regulator Agree Chat Commerce can Radically Shift Financial Inclusion in Nigeria

Clickatell (, the Chat Commerce and business messaging leader, discussed with attendees at Clickatell’s Connect Interact and Transact (CIT) annual event earlier this month how they could drive financial inclusion and reach their revenue goals by adopting Chat Commerce. The event took place at the Radisson Blu, Anchorage in Lagos with industry experts from Clickatell, Ecobank and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sharing insight and tips with an audience of business and technology leaders.


Werner Lindemann, Clickatell’s Senior Vice President of Enterprise Sales, Growth Markets, kicked off by pointing out how global brands, like Amazon and Uber, have built their entire business model on convenience commerce – where businesses find ways to deliver services and products to their customers wherever they are and at a time that works for them.

Lindemann went on to share that the best way to reach customers where they are is on their phone. However, he said apps have a very limited shelf life, saying the average customer regularly uses just five apps on their phone. He advised instead of focusing on building apps, brands should be looking to leverage the power of chat, especially since WhatsApp is the most used ( social media platform in Nigeria. What’s more, when combined with USSD, companies will be able to reach almost every person in the country.

The power of Chat Commerce is especially relevant for the Nigerian banking industry and Lindemann shared that banks can now onboard new clients and conduct Know Your Customer (KYC) standards using chat, meaning banks can serve customers anywhere in the country, in real time.

Lindemann shared other use cases where Clickatell had radically changed how Southern African businesses engaged with their customers, these included:

  • How a national retailer was able to cut their broadsheet print production and distribution from 5 Dollars to just 3 cents
  • How that retailer now has a 40% to 70% engagement rate on their product specials using WhatsApp, compared to 3% on SMS
  • How a national retailer now uses WhatsApp to enable self-service for their loyalty programme and has eliminated more than 20 000 call centre calls per month to block or replace loyalty cards
  • How a national healthcare chain now allows customers to order and arrange collection of their chronic medication at their nearest outlet, no matter where they are in the country
  • How a Southern African low-cost airline allows travellers to check in and receive their boarding pass on the WhatsApp channel


People are already on these chat platforms, and we aim to serve them with payments where they are

An engaging panel discussion followed the keynote, introduced by Clickatell’s West Africa Managing Director, Samson Isa and facilitated by Uzo Nwani, Commercial Director of Clickatell.

Opening the discussion, panelists highlighted how their organization had used technology to boost inclusivity. For CBN, this was achieved by its introduction of the eNaira digital currency. For Ecobank, its move to offer a WhatsApp channel allowed them to reach their customers more easily. And for Clickatell, it has been the company’s drive to help banks in Africa improve their reach by moving to the more ubiquitous chat channel.

“One out of three Nigerians are financially excluded. Therefore the work we have done with Clickatell on the eNaira USSD channel is so exciting. We are also looking to the eNaira to lower the costs of remittances as well as bring down the high costs of cash management. We believe the eNaira will drive inclusive growth and make the Central Bank, as an institution, much more effective in carrying out its mandate,” said Stephen Ambore, Assistant Director, CBN.

Osahon Akpata, Group Head of Consumer Payments at Ecobank shared the power of mobile with the audience.

“Across 33 countries, Ecobank Group processed $5.1 billion through our mobile app in 2021 and we built an agency banking network of 110,000 agents, leveraging the ubiquity of mobile devices. While Chat Commerce is still in its infancy for us, we are scaling up the platform for better customer service. We have integrated artificial intelligence into our chatbot, Rafiki, to help solve customer queries quicker and seamlessly. We also have customers using the chat channel for transactions and we plan on expanding its use to product information as well. People are already on these chat platforms, and we aim to serve them with payments where they are,” he said.

Akpata went on to share that being able to generate QR codes on the WhatsApp channel, make transfers and buy airtime have all been met with great enthusiasm by Ecobank customers, adding that chat will be a key part of the bank’s drive to reach its target of 100 million customers.

CBN will also be looking to chat to connect with people in Nigeria further in the future.

“We are looking at chat to help us deliver financial literacy and boost inclusion. When it comes to innovation, chat, including USSD, can help us reach new customers and I am excited about the future opportunities, especially at the base of the pyramid,” said Ambore.

Lindemann wrapped up the proceedings by saying: “We’ve just kicked off a project with a major bank with around 15 million active customers, and we will be building them a chat banking wallet in just six weeks. In my opinion, chat is allowing us to fast-forward innovation for enterprises. I believe every enterprise has a responsibility to deploy products that have a real impact on their customer and society, and to see this happen in six weeks is testament to the power of chat.”

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