Africa’s leading provider of Integrated Banking and Payment software platforms, AppZone Group has launched BankOne, a digital platform which allows customers of Nigerian microfinance banks (MFBs) to access and operate their accounts right from the comfort of their homes and offices.

The group said the innovative platform allows microfinance banks to convert mobile devices to data capture terminals, positioning the sector to achieving “branchless” banking.

Analysts have  observed that BankOne is not only getting popular across the nation, but is making customer banking easier, especially for customers who prefer to bank from the comfort of their homes or offices.

The innovation is coming at a time the apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is aiming at lowering financial exclusion from over 40 percent in 2010 to about 20 percent by the end of 2012. And to achieve it requires active involvement of stakeholders including microfinance banks that currently represent about 3 percent of the Nigerian economy.

It would be recalled that in 2010, the operating licenses of more than 200 microfinance banks were revoked by the CBN due to their inability to meet capital requirements. However, the apex bank reinstated about 50 percent of them later in the year.

AppZone Group is capitalizing on the development of the microfinance sector by profering solutions which are converted to products and are licensed.

“Once we developed the solutions, we essentially converted them to products and started licensing them”, Emeka Emetarom, chief operating officer of AppZone said in an interview with BusinessDay.

The group has an impressive list of customers which include commercial bank such as Skye Bank, Wema Bank, First Bank and Access Bank; these banks are funding the group’s product development efforts.

Emetarom also said microfinance institutions would be able to subscribe to AppZone’sBankOne instead of buying its license: “The idea is that small institutions can benefit from world class technology without having to pay million of dollars in license fees.”

IPNX Nigeria, a data center provider, will host the offering with back up at another data center in the United States.

In terms of cost, customers won’t have to pay much since the platform is quite affordable. A bank will pay between $1,500 and $2,500 as implementation fee, and a monthly subscription fee of about $30 per user. Hence the more users a bank has, the cheaper the fee per user.

Since its launch in 2010, about 30 microfinance banks are already on the platform.

“Most are live, and a few are implementing now. Collectively, these represent about 200,000 accounts…the system is flexible enough to be easily configured,” he concluded.

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