Money transfer apps have changed the game when it comes to the way in which people send and receive funds internationally, rapidly eradicating traditional methods like bank transfers and money orders. These apps have transformed the financial landscape, offering not just convenience, but speed, cost-efficiency, and accessibility that traditional methods simply cannot match.
I strongly hold the view that the future of money sending apps in the Nigerian banking industry holds considerable promise and potential for both customers and the financial sector as a whole
Back in 2020, I landed in Nigeria and took a chance with my Monzo bank card after extensively researching whether the online bank works in the country. I paid for my hotel with it and found one ATM machine in Lekki Phase 1 that let me withdraw Naira. I became too confident until I was humbled by all the other restaurants, clubs and supermarkets that didn’t accept the master card as an acceptable form of payment. This meant that the only other logical next step would be to open a Nigerian bank account. How did I get by? I used people offering money transfer services I knew in London (that charge fees and have certain transfer limits) to send to my family members to withdraw cash for me. Swept up by the enjoyment of Detty December, I put off opening a bank account and returned to London.
Fast forward to 2023 and in an era where technology continues to reshape our world, financial services have seen remarkable advancements. One such innovation is LemFi, a money-sending app that is transforming the way we IJGBs receive and send money to Nigeria. There’s no fee, the rates are competitive, it gives you an account number to receive money, its interface is user-friendly, and I no longer have to flag down Malams offering POS services. These transfer apps have, in fact, made the holiday experience in Nigeria, seamless.
Money transfer made easy for IJGBs
Before delving into the details of this new wave of digital transformation, it’s essential to understand the unique challenges and opportunities in Nigeria’s financial landscape. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, with a vibrant and diverse economy. Despite its economic potential, the country has faced long-standing issues with traditional banking and money transfer services, including high fees, long transaction times, and a lack of accessibility in rural areas. This has led to a significant demand for innovative solutions that can address these pain points.
Enter money transfer apps. These fintech companies have stepped in to address these challenges by offering a fast, affordable, and secure way to send and receive money in Nigeria.
This method of moving money has significantly reduced the time it takes to send your cash across borders. Traditional methods often involve lengthy processing times, including manual verifications and international clearance. With money transfer apps, transactions are typically completed within minutes to hours, enabling recipients to access funds quickly in urgent situations.
Additionally, money transfer apps are accessible to anyone with a smartphone or internet connection. Traditional methods may require visiting a bank or post office during business hours, filling out paperwork, and adhering to strict protocols. Money transfer apps are also available 24/7, making international transfers convenient and accessible to a global audience.
I found that these apps also employ robust security measures to protect users’ financial information and transactions. They often use encryption, multi-factor authentication, and other advanced security features, offering a level of protection that can be superior to some traditional methods.
Some money transfer apps have started incorporating cryptocurrencies, which can be used as a medium for international money transfers. Cryptocurrencies can provide even faster and cheaper cross-border transactions, although they come with their own set of risks and challenges.
I strongly hold the view that the future of money-sending apps in the Nigerian banking industry holds considerable promise and potential for both customers and the financial sector as a whole. With such ease that now comes with money transfers across borders, the only thing that’s left is for me to take my NIN number and BVN to open up a bank account in Nigeria to save spending money for my next trip to the country.
Money-sending apps are instrumental in promoting financial inclusion in Nigeria. They offer an on-ramp to formal financial services for those who were previously excluded from the traditional banking system, namely those living in rural areas in the country where banking infrastructure isn’t always available.
My prediction? Nigerian banks may likely partner with or develop their own apps to tap into this underserved market, extending their reach to rural and remote areas. These apps also have the power (and data) to open up global banking systems such as Monzo or Revolut.
The regulatory environment and partnerships between banks and fintech firms will also be essential in guiding this evolution.
Opiah is a documentary curator and tech editor