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Why Sterling Bank pioneered lending via social media — Igbodo

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Social Lender is a social media based banking product introduced by Sterling Bank. It allows customers of the bank to access cash loans via social media websites like the Facebook.

Money-pix-(igbodo)In recognition of the pioneering status of the product, Sterling Bank was recently awarded “The Most Innovative Bank” by the Nigerian Telecoms Award.

In this interview, Mr. Kelvin Igbodo, Head Social Media of Sterling Bank Plc explains why the bank introduced the Social Lender saying it would soon be made available to everybody. Excerpts

THE use of social media to disseminate information to our target audience seems to be the order of the day both by individuals and organizations. What is responsible for this trend?

In this information age, it is only a man devoid of knowledge of the times that fails to realize that conventional methods of living and transacting business are quickly fading. What we have these days are ‘faster’ means of living; we’ve got fast food, instant messaging, fast cars and a whole lot. For one to remain relevant therefore, it is imperative that one upgrades or moves with the times. The world has simply become technologically driven and we must move in tandem.

What are the potential risks in the increasing use of the social media?

Risk is a concept that exists with any venture. A simple routine walk can lead to a dangerous situation just as easy as being caught up in a robbery. What we have done however is put in place mitigants.

Sterling Bank is very active on the social media. Why this?

Our active participation and presence on Social Media is strategic. While we realize that the youth today are social media savvy, we also deem it necessary to position our organization to make sure our footprints are firmly planted in an emerging channel. In a time where business is moving away from the four walls of the banking hall to the comfort of a mobile phone, it became necessary to ‘speak the language’ of our customers. Our foray into and activeness on Social Media is all part of a bigger plan to dominate the space.

What does the Social Lender Award mean to your Bank?

This award is recognition for innovation; a crystal clear reward for pioneering change in the Banking sector. It recognizes us as the first in Nigeria to launch out to an untested terrain and it’s refreshing to know that our services are not going unnoticed.

What is the product all about?

Social Lender is a solution that enables both Sterling Bank and non-Sterling Bank account holders to have access to quick cash based on their social media reputation. What this basically means is that with your facebook or twitter accounts and by registering on the social lender website, you can get instant cash for your immediate needs.

Why did you introduce the Social Lender product?

If we look closely, it can be seen that most Banking processes are being remodeled for online use. We find that, traditional methods such as interbank payments can now be effectively done via Internet banking transfers, in the same way, account balances need not be sourced from account officers as these are easily obtained via mobile short codes.

What we did was to seek further methods of simplifying routine Bank processes and acquiring cash to meet needs was one issue we could tackle. We set up a technology framework, has discussions with a developer, of BINCOM ICT and with their amazing expertise, Social Lender was birthed.

Is it restricted to a segment of the market or any one active in social media?

For this phase of the project, Social Lender is available to all customers of Sterling Bank; those with active Bank accounts. Of course, having a facebook or twitter account is part of the requirements. Going forward though, the solution will be open to all interested individuals.

One major issue about such avenues is that people are never willing to pay back. What is your experience with Social Lender?

We have seen with our customers a surprisingly positive attitude as beneficiaries of the scheme have been faithful in repaying the funds. Not all monies have been remitted but the payback tradition is encouraging.

Sterling Bank in the last three years has become a domineering factor in the social media circle, what is responsible for this?

We have leadership with a plan, a goal and a clearly mapped out route detailing how this goal will be achieved. We have only scratched the surface, our targets surpass the present achievements and we can assure you that more user friendly applications, innovations and experiences will be deployed in the not too distant future.

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