“Competition is stiff for attendees and for clients. It’s hard to ‘get heard in today’s world. You have to do something to stand out and beat the competition” – Christina Green.
Wema Bank Plc, Nigeria’s oldest indigenous commercial bank, recently announced the strategic partnership it entered with Health Connect 24/7, a leading telemedicine provider that combines next-generation telemedicine, telemonitoring, and home health technologies to provide patients with 24/7 access to highly trained and experienced doctors, clinical psychologists, wellness experts, and care coordinators.
According to the bank, the partnership will provide the bank’s customers with access to engage and receive first-level medical service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The platform has highly trained and licensed health management personnel and wellness experts, as well as experienced doctors stationed to give sophisticated, easy-to-use, and accessible mobile health system services designed to enhance medical services,” said Olusegun Adeniyi, Chief Digital Officer of the bank.
He informed subscribers that the service, which costs a meagre sum of N300 a month for subscribers, provides reliable medical and wellness advice and support for healthy, acute, and chronic conditions; facilitates medical appointments; provides medication delivery and laboratory services; and provides mental wellness treatment for patients undergoing treatment for depression, anxiety disorders, substance dependence, self-esteem difficulties, suicidal behaviour, eating disorders, compulsive behaviour, assertiveness training, and emotion management.
Olusegun Adeniyi listed some of the interesting features of the service, which include easy accessibility through the click of the app or calling the toll-free number; honest and ethical medical advice based on evidence; the availability of doctors who speak to the patients in 3 major Nigerian languages or explicitly Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba their native languages; end-to-end management of conditions; pre-natal and post-natal wellness; wellness lectures and workshops; processes that comply with the latest regulations of the Ministry of Health of Nigeria as well as adhering to international standards; and so on.
One of the questions analysts ask is, “What motivates a bank to incorporate the provision of access to health management services into the financial services provider that it primarily sets out to do?” Is the bank listening to Green, a digital storyteller, who, in her paper, “10 tactics to beat your competitors,” published in 2016, listed knowing your competition, figuring out how different you are, knowing your audience, and catching them young as among the ten things that players in the event planning industry can do to grow their businesses?
Much as the service may seem to be a business tactic to give the bank a competitive edge in a highly competitive and near-absently differentiated environment like the banking industry, the value-added service offering bears the customer-centric innovationist signature of Wema Bank.
Today, Wema Bank stands out as one of the most innovative banks in Nigeria. According to the Head of Partnership, Wema Bank’s innovativeness is driven by its focus on customers’ convenience and well-being.
He said Wema Bank birthed the first fully digital bank in Nigeria, ALAT by Wema. ALAT by Wema is a branchless and paperless bank, created to drive transformation and redefine experiential banking in Nigeria’s banking sector. It eliminates the stress of having to walk into a branch that prospective customers face anytime they want to open an account by offering them a seamless sign-up process using a mobile phone, PC, or tablet.
Also, in demonstration of its customer-centric approach to its business, the bank has partnered with SheCan Nigeria, a non-governmental organization, for many years to hold the annual skills acquisition training conference codenamed “SheCan Do More.” This, according to the bank, is “to enlarge the coast for women so they can optimally contribute to their families and to the country in general.”
In 2019, Wema Bank launched a female proposition known as SARA, which is a platform that seeks to provide women with solutions that help them fully contribute to and fully benefit from the growth opportunities available within the bank. It is designed with the sole purpose of improving the financial, economic, and social lives of women in society.
This platform provides increased access to all our credit facilities, ranging from personal loans, salary-backed loans, and business loans, at discounted rates. Female customers of the bank can get up to N1,000,000 in loans at a 9 per cent interest rate to meet their short-term business needs without the need for collateral.
This platform is available to its existing and new customers, irrespective of whether their businesses are registered or not.
Through its partnership with AIICO Multishield, it also provides women access to articles and tips on finance, business trends, health and wellbeing, family and relationships, career, beauty, and finance; capacity-building initiatives; and access to health management services.
So, while the ALAT Health Connect will likely impact the bank’s bottom line, given its customer-centric features, the product mirrors Wema Bank’s corporate philosophy of making its customers’ well-being the fulcrum around which its operations revolve. It has already built a legacy of customer-centricity in the nation’s banking industry.
Ayinde Wellington, a public health analyst wrote from Lagos.
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