10:27 AM, March 2, 2024

UMB: Shaping Ghana’s Digital Frontier

| The European |
UMB Bank

Prior to the mid-1990s, the idea of disruption or innovative disruption was almost unheard of across the business world. However, in recent years it has become a corporate catchphrase, albeit an often misused one. While updating its business strategy, UMB Bank (UMB) – a premier financial institution based in Ghana – has adopted the true ideals of innovative disruption, as espoused by its creator Clayton Christensen, to chart its future path in Ghana’s banking industry.

In February 2018 Christensen defined innovative disruption as “a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established companies.” But even before the concept was created, UMB had already established itself as a classic example of an innovative disruptor.

Recognising opportunities

UMB opened to the Ghanaian public on 15 March 1972 and, since its inception, has remained a force in Ghana’s hyper- competitive banking market. UMB was created because there was no bank in Ghana in the early 1970s that focused exclusively on the needs of local businesses. UMB recognised this business opportunity and capitalised on it, so much so, that other banks changed their business models in an attempt to replicate the success of UMB.
Drawing from this history of disruptive innovation, UMB again looks to be making a significant impact by transforming Ghana’s banking industry through digital innovation. As with many industries, technology provides the banking sector with the opportunity to transform, to innovate and most importantly to fundamentally impact its customers’ lives in a positive way. UMB is utilising technology at every turn to drive its innovation agenda.

Beginning with its core operating platform, UMB Bank is recognised the need to change its operating platform to a more robust system to handle the ever-evolving needs of its modern consumer. Often described as a market-leading transaction processing system, Temenos T24 allows UMB to access real-time customer information so that it can evaluate performance to effectively market the right products and services to its customers. It also allows UMB to create tailor-made products and services based on the usage data gleaned from its customers. In an era where consumer needs are rapidly changing, utilising a tool that will help to satisfy, and in some cases even exceed the needs of customers, is absolutely invaluable.

In addition to its core-banking platform, UMB modernised its credit application process through the implementation of the revolutionary Genie de Banca software. In Ghana, the absence of capital is a serious impediment for many businesses, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. This lack of capital prevents many entrepreneurs from pursuing their dreams. From its inception, UMB has always been committed to supporting the SME sector and many businesses in Ghana owe their existence to the banking professionals at UMB.

As a commitment to SMEs has always been a defining characteristic of UMB Bank, in recent years, the bank’s management recognised the need to update their credit application process. After a thorough review of the credit application process, they discovered that they could enhance the credit application process by streamlining the process. Through the Genie de Banca software, UMB has significantly cut down the processing time for routine loans so that customers can now access their requested funds almost immediately.

The UMB SpeedApp

In addition to optimising their operational performance through technology, UMB’s major drive towards disruptive innovation is through their mobile banking application, the UMB SpeedApp. Although, not the first banking application to be released in Ghana, the UMB SpeedApp is a banking powerhouse that brings the fundamental principles of banking to the masses in Ghana. The UMB SpeedApp has all the features of traditional mobile banking application, such as account statement review and money transfer, but you can do so much more. You can apply UMB’s Airport City branch for loans, apply for Bancassurance, save with the mobile wallet and use the scan and pay feature. The cardless withdrawal feature allows you to withdraw money from any UMB ATM without your ATM card. The contact sync feature allows you to send money easily to anyone in your contacts list and you can easily move money from your mobile accounts to your UMB bank account. Essentially, the UMB SpeedApp gives its customers the power of banking innovation right at their fingertips.

The majority of Ghanaians do not have bank accounts. Many cite being intimidated by banking halls or simply that they do not trust the banking system. While the UMB SpeedApp naturally appeals to those who value how it significantly transforms their banking capability, it is its appeal to the unbanked population that is truly amazing. By giving them the control of banking through their phone, the UMB SpeedApp helps to dissipate distrust and allows the user to reap its benefits with or without a bank account.

Using innovation as its driving force, UMB Bank is keeping an eye on its future thanks to its digital platform. By actively pursuing new technologies, UMB intends to push the boundaries of how consumers interact with their financial institutions and to bring more consumers to the banking sector.

UMB is a leading financial institution with headquarters in Accra. It has 33 branches located throughout Ghana, three UMB Centre for Businesses located in key market centres in Ghana, and one UMB PPP Incubator Centre, plus a vast network of ATMs and an exciting new range of products in development.

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