Nigeria's New Heights Microfinance Bank selects Clickatell for mobile messaging

Source: Clickatell

Clickatell, leading global provider of mobile messaging solutions for financial institutions, today announced that New Heights Microfinance Bank Ltd Nigeria has chosen Clickatell to deploy mobile messaging services to its customers.

In just over a year of operating, New Heights has introduced its suite of microfinance solutions including loans, credit, savings, money transfer services, and microinsurance products to serve an eager underbanked market. As Africa's most populous country and counted among the top ten most populous countries in the world; Nigeria has an estimated 79% of the adult population that are considered underbanked. In order to address this huge market opportunity and meet the needs of a rapidly expanding customer base, New Heights required a scaleable, SMS-based, mobile messaging solution to improve service delivery and ensure their customers gain immediate access to their suite of microfinance products anytime, anywhere. Having the largest global range, reach and mobile messaging delivery experience in the financial services sector, Clickatell is the partner of choice to provide New Heights with enterprise-class mobile messaging solutions required to meet their growing needs now and in the future.

Globally, it has been estimated that only about one-sixth (500 million of an estimated 3 billion) of underprivileged people throughout the world have access to proper financial services. Wherever the poor exist in mass in Nigeria and throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America; emerging financial services providers like New Heights are addressing the challenge of how to best serve the financial needs of individuals with low socioeconomic status (SES). Microfinance refers to financial services offered to low SES individuals that are excluded from the traditional financial system and often are considered 'unbankable' - lacking collateral, steady employment and verifiable credit history. Aspects of Microfinance, such as microcredit and microloans, are designed to help lift individuals, families and communities out of poverty by providing small loans for personal businesses and start-up capital for entrepreneurial projects, which will presumsumablyy help individuals to generate income, build wealth and ultimately exit poverty.

This new way of thinking about banking is sweeping the world, especially in areas of great poverty, as thousands of financial institutions and microfinance service providers have emerged in recent years to address the needs of the underserved, unbanked around the world. The Consultancy Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) noted, "There is a vast potential market for retail financial services among low-income clients, and a growing number of commercial banks have successfully entered this market."

Mobile Microfinance Takes the Stage Using SMS

Forbes article "Mobile Microfinance" reported, "An estimated 750 million households worldwide don't have a bank account. In Mexico, cash transactions constitute 79% of payments. In India, 91%. In China, 82%. Even in the U.S., 80 million people are in the category of the underbanked. Most people around the world, however, own a mobile phone. Over the past few years, a number of start-ups have put these facts together to form an industry that helps people access banking services on their cell phones." Due to its low cost, ubiquity, instant availability, and accessibility on mobile phones around the world, SMS is an ideal medium to communicate, provide status and notifications, and account activations to the underbanked population.

"Most of the world's underprivileged remain so because they are denied the basic things they need to make a living. Microlending is getting attention around the world and our early success has shown that microloans and microcredit works to help people get started on the path to success," said Oladipupo Olakunle Michael, Head of IT for Nigerian-based New Heights Microfinance Bank Ltd. "Our vision to be the No.1 bank in Nigeria means we need to partner with companies that share a similar philosophy and competence. Many of our customers have a cell phone, but they may not have the ability to find a physical branch, make a phone call, or log on to a PC. SMS alerts give our customers the ability to keep a watchful eye over their finances anytime, anywhere. Clickatell provides us with global reach and critical messaging services, and they have an enviable track record in the financial services sector."

New Heights customers will receive SMS messages when transactions occur, informing them on the spot of any account activity. When payments are due, customers will receive alerts letting them know. And, if fraudulent activity occurs, customers can notify New Heights immediately, rather than waiting 30 days to receive their end of month statement. New Heights also sends monthly statements directly to mobile phones making it easy, convenient, and even possible for customers to stay in touch with their financial portfolio.

"Given these tough global economic times, we are seeing strong demand for Microfinance providers to address a broader market through mobile solutions," noted Pieter de Villers, CEO of Clickatell. "Innovators like New Heights are seeking the same benefits typically provided by Clickatell for banks globally - scalablity, reliability and trust. By incorporating SMS, microfinance providers can improve adoption and quality of service by increasing access to personal financial information at a relatively low cost of acquiring and servicing customers."

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