BusinessDay

Why Apple Business Chat is UBA Leo’s new playground

United Bank for Africa (UBA)’s very popular chatbot, Leo has found a new playground on Apple Business Chat. This is coming after nearly a year the chatbot launched on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Businesses and consumers can now communicate in real-time through Leo on the Apple Business Chat or just Business Chat.

Apple Business Chat is an iMessage-based feature that looks to be a direct shot at customer service messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and Twitter’s DM support. The feature capitalizes on the amount of time that users spend on their mobile devices inside chat apps. Users can find a business using Safari, Maps, Spotlight, or even Siri, and they can initiate a text-based conversation with that business through Apple’s Message app. The users get answers to questions, resolve issues, complete transactions, and more.

Just like in Facebook Messenger, users can shop and buy products directly from chat. Businesses can also show items in stock in a list format, which will appear in the conversation and does not require them to open a new window.

“We are always looking for new ways to serve our customers easily and on time; we are therefore thrilled to support Apple Business Chat, which gives us a powerful and engaging connection with our customers,” said Kennedy Uzoka, Group Managing Director of UBA, who spoke at the launch of the service in the bank’s Head office on Thursday. “Most of our customers prefer iOS, and we always want to exceed their expectations when they experience UBA. Apple Business Chat makes communicating with us as easy as messaging a friend, so we expect it will quickly become our customers’ preferred customer service channel.”

While on Business Chat, Leo will be looking to tap into the iMessage’s estimated 1.3 billion monthly active users, according to Apple’s most recent disclosure of total active devices.

Services available on Leo include account opening, airtime purchase, account balance, transfers and bill payment.

Since it played a pioneering role in galvanizing chat banking in Nigeria, Leo has gone to gain global fame with a special reference by Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s conference in San Francisco.

At the Social Media Week Lagos 2019, where the company kicked off the first session, it was disclosed that 1 million users across 17 African countries are currently using Leo.

“Today, we are covering a segment that has been missing for some time,” said Uzoka. “It is our desire to ensure that we put Leo everywhere, and today it is now on the IOS platform as the users approached us that they needed to enjoy the service which Facebook and WhatsApp users had been enjoying from LEO. Consistently, we have been the first in the use of intelligence banking, this is the first time this is happening in Africa.”

UBA plans to increase the number of languages that Leo speaks. Some of the languages likely to be added by the end of October include French, Portuguese and Swahili.

To start Apple Business Chat, customers can click the ‘Chat with Messages’ button on UBA’s website or in a mobile banking app, available in the App Store. A conversation with UBA’s agents will open instantly in the Messages app, and users can take their time responding when it’s convenient.

Apple Business Chat is available in beta for users and businesses around the world and is built into iOS 11.3 and higher.