Union Bank CEO, Emeka Emuwa, with other business heads at the RPA Launch.

At a launch event which held at it’s Stallion Plaza HQ, Union Bank (Nigeria’s oldest bank) announced its Robotic Process Automation technology, a culmination of three years of development and testing.

Robotic Process Automation makes use of software robots to offer improved business efficiency and data security by automating repetitive tasks across multiple business applications without altering existing infrastructure and systems. Union Bank is the first bank to implement it in Nigeria, starting with reconciliation of ATM transactions and cutting the processing time for that service by 60%.

According to Emeka Emuwa, Union Bank’s CEO, “The provision of simpler, smarter banking services to our valued customers is at the core of our business. Therefore, we remain focused on leveraging cutting edge technology and creating innovative partnerships which will facilitate the achievement of this objective.”

Union Bank’s RPA was borne three years ago at the bank’s steering committee meeting when then Head of Operations, Lateef Dabiri, pushed for automation of certain processes which would help the bank improve service delivery and staff productivity, cut down processing times and improve accuracy and compliance.

“Several banking processes are quite repetitive, even mundane frankly, and that is not sustainable. So we thought, why don’t we use technology to handle these processes and free up staff to focus on the customers?” said Lateef, who now heads compliance at Union Bank, when I interviewed him on the sidelines of the launch.

“Compared to humans, robots don’t get tired, go on breaks, or fall sick – which means they can continuously do work and that is where the whole idea came from. We started to work on it and decided to pick a process – in this case, reconciliation – which eventually led to this launch,” Lateef added.

The rest of Nigeria’s banking industry will be looking at technologies like RPA, at least to keep down cost of serving each customer. And Lateef believes this is just the first step. “Beyond this, AI will also come into play down the line to help with various aspects of banking outside of just operations and compliance. This is just the beginning,” he says. It’ll be interesting to see how technologies like these are implemented across board within the Nigerian banking industry and how that will affect customer service and experience.

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