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#DigitalBanking: A look at Vbank, Nigeria’s digital banking app of 2020

When VFD Microfinance Bank entered Nigeria’s budding virtual banking space with its VBank app in March 2020, it joined the ranks of challenger banks giving mainstream banks a run for their money.

It was launched when consumers were groaning under the burden of high account maintenance fees, hidden bank charges and other difficult regulatory demands. It was also at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, which necessitated months of lockdown and restricted movement.

Riding on the back of its attractive and easy-to-use interface, the VBank app quickly racked up hundreds of thousands of downloads on Playstore and the App store. 

The latest update to the app launched earlier in the year with some sterling features to make virtual banking seamless.

Customisable features

The new update on the app comes with a customisable interface that allows adding quick links to the homepage by clicking the edit button on the top left corner of the page. With this, you can add features you use frequently to where you can quickly access them. 

Receiving/Sending money without an account number

The app comes with Proximity Payment, a Bluetooth-like feature. With this, VBank users can send or receive from other users of the app without using an account number. The app uses your phone’s location, microphone and Bluetooth to carry out the transaction. 

There is a catch, however: VBank expressly states that “the data being shared is temporarily uploaded to Google in order to enable sharing.” 

Closely related to this are the QR code payment and cardless withdrawal options. The QR code feature allows users to initiate and receive payment by scanning another user’s QR code. It also enables the app user to generate a unique QR code anywhere in the world and then share the same with family and friends to receive payments anywhere QR code payment service is available. 

The cardless withdrawal feature enables users to withdraw cash at any ATM in Nigeria without using a physical debit card. And with the ATM locator on the app, you can locate ATM points nearest to you. 

One transaction, multiple beneficiaries

Sending funds to more than one person can be a bit tedious and time-consuming, especially when the internet connection is unstable.  However, the VBank app allows for making payments to multiple beneficiaries at a go with no hassles and for free. The bank charges zero naira for transfers all year round.

Investing 

With the Invest menu on the app, users can do more than save money. The menu allows users to create target savings, fixed deposit and shared/joint accounts, and also request a loan.  Only recently, the bank reviewed its Fixed Deposit Rates to return between 11.25 and 15 percent on a 30 to 365 day fixed tenor. This is one of the highest in the country. Also, it renewed its annual Children’s Day Target Savings in May 2021 promising a 20 percent bonus in the first month and nine percent in subsequent months provided the same amount is fixed monthly.

Other regular features

Like many other bank apps, with the VBank app you can do mobile top-up and pay bills. This would vary from cable bills, electricity bills to betting games.

The Vbank app is a digital product of VFD Microfinance bank which was incorporated in Lagos in 2015. The bank returned 400 percent in investment in 2020, the year of the pandemic. This is perhaps connected to the timely introduction of its digital app, Vbank, in March 2020, a few weeks before the country shut down. Last April, Vbank was named banking app of the year 2020 at the Gage Awards.

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