"Likewise, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) has also promised to extend the capabilities of their chat banker, Leo, to Whatsapp by September 1".

August 3, we reported that Clickatell, a south-african global messaging company was making it possible for banks in Africa to reach their customers via Whatsapp.

Clickatell, a Whatsapp business solution partner has brought about this innovation via their Transact product. Clickatell's Transact allows customers to distribute digital products via their existing channels. Under Clickatell's Transact are two modules; .core and .control. While, their .core module is a full-on banking solution targeted at banks themselves, their .control module is targeted at a bank's customers.

With the .control module integrated with Whatsapp Business API, participating banks can now configure their workflows to be able to interact with their customers on Whatsapp.

South-African bank, Absa was the first African bank to deploy Clickatell's Transact .Control module. Recently, Nigeria's United Bank for Africa (UBA) joined the ranks as the first bank to allow for chat banking on Whatsapp powered by Clickatell's Transact.

Still to come on Clickatell's list are Guaranty Trust Bank and First Bank of Nigeria.

From a technical point-of-view it now begins to make sense that UBA created a "Chat Banker" module – Leo, which can interface with other third-party solutions. This limits their exposure in the event of a breach on the side of the third-party. So for instance, if Whatsapp or Clickatell gets hacked, only the data stored on Leo will be affected and not that of the core banking application.

UBA's Group Managing Director, Kennedy Uzoka said at the launch of Leo on Whatsapp:

"Our customers are at the heart of our business and we as a bank, are never relenting in matching our words with equal action.  In today’s fast-paced world with demands for quick responses, our aim is to make banking seamless and effortless for our millions of existing and potential customers."

Many upwardly-mobile Nigerian youths cannot remember the last time they visited a bank branch to make transactions in naira. With the rate of social media (aka Facebook and Whatsapp) penetration in this part of the world, it makes less sense to invest in bank branches than in digital solutions. This trend is catching on with parents as well, as many rely on their children to send money to their beneficiaries on their behalf.

"My mom always comes home with cash and tells me to help her send money to her nephew" .

While writing this article, we interviewed a UBA customer in his early-twenties who uses a high-end smartphone, let's call him Dele[1].

He told us that his mother always gives him the cash equivalent for a transfer service to her relative.

While, his 55-year old dad is very mobile and trendy.

"My dad already does all his financial transactions from his iPhone, he uses Zenith bank".

"But what am I supposed to do with all that cash? I end up spending them prematurely. At other times, I use the cash to pay for my Taxify trips", he continues.

"Personally, I make all my financial transactions on UBA's Leo via Facebook Messenger."

We believe UBA's decision to activate on Whatsapp is borne out of the need to deepen their digital footprint by leveraging Whatsapp growin user base across the continent. But, it might prove redundant as existing Leo users on FB messenger would have no cause for it.

Moreover, browsing Facebook's web page is free.


  1. not his real name ↩︎

Watch out for our review of UBA's Leo on Whatsapp. In the meantime, read that of Leo on Facebook.