Clickatell, mobile messaging solutions provider for financial service providers worldwide, today announced that FirstGlobal Microfinance Bank of Nigeria is delivering Clickatell-powered text banking services to eager mobile customers. FirstGlobal customers can now opt-in to receive real-time Clickatell SMS transaction alerts, payment reminders and SMS fraud alerts directly to their mobile phone, any time of the day or night.

Experts estimate that $20-30 billion dollars are currently on loan to more than 50 million microfinance borrowers around the globe. In addition, ?70% of the Nigerian population is un- or under-banked, a fitting demographic to take advantage of microfinance services, especially those using SMS as a way to communicate to banking customers because of its ubiquity and ease of use.

"Clickatell has an impressive record for both retail and microfinance banks around the world and in Nigeria. They came highly recommended for their efficiency, ability to seamlessly integrate with back end technology platforms, and their expansive global connections to more than 775 mobile networks. Clickatell's strong reputation as the leader in real-time delivery of messaging solutions with no service disruptions added to our reasons for choosing them," commented Numonyo Otiotio, Product Manager and IT Head, FirstGlobal Microfinance Bank.

Global, national and community banks of all types are increasingly deploying text banking services to reduce the pressure on live-agent call centers and to reduce fraud and its high associated costs. In fact, FirstGlobal is already seeing significant decline in the number of fraud cases being reported due to real time Clickatell alerts sent directly when transactions occur. Customers can immediately respond to the bank when erroneous transactions occur, rather than wait the typical 30-days for physical statements to arrive in the mail.

In addition, fewer support staff are required to handle manual queries and paper-based communications because a variety of simple banking transactions - like balance inquiries - can be easily accomplished via SMS.

The bank can also increase revenue potential by providing value-added mobile services for new and existing customers. FirstGlobal is sending SMS alerts to remind customers to make loan payments on time thereby reducing unnecessary interest charges as well as maximizing the bank's revenue inflow.

"I'm excited to see microfinance banks and others in the financial sector enhance their offerings to reach and satisfy customers using mobile. These services not only broaden their own revenue potential, but they are also helping maximize mobile network operator revenue potential," said Pieter de Villiers, Clickatell CEO. "In less than a decade, mobility will be the preferred way to bank. Clickatell's experience in working with both carriers and FIs can help provide the services necessary to bring mobile banking to market quickly for small and large banks all around the world."

Microfinance banking helps people get ahead - text banking broadens market
Microfinance refers to financial services provided to low-income people, usually to help support self-employment. Examples of microfinance products include: small loans, savings plans, insurance, payment transfer, and other services that are provided in small increments that low-income individuals can afford. These services help families start and build "micro" enterprises, the very small businesses that are important sources of employment, income, and economic vitality in developing countries worldwide. Because salaried or wage-paying jobs are scarce in many developing countries, most citizens earn their livings through self-employment, creating and operating their own small enterprises. But without financial options to fuel productivity, they can never grow their businesses to help escape poverty. The microfinance movement was born to ease the suffering caused by poverty, and to awaken the under-capitalized productivity of the world's working poor.

"Text banking is a perfect first step for banks wanting to build mobile relationships because of its ubiquity, usability and the fact that more than 80% of all basic banking tasks can be accomplished via SMS. FirstGlobal understands the value of offering mobile services to increase customer loyalty, give customers more options, and ultimately expand their reach," concludes de Villiers.

Please look for Clickatell this week at the Mobile Banking & Financial Services Africa Conference in Johannesburg.

About FirstGlobal Microfinance Bank

First Global Microfinance Bank is amongst the first microfinance banks to have secured approval to operate from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2006. The bank was incorporated on 10 November 2006 and commenced operating in January 2007. First Global MFB won CBN best Microfinance Bank of the year 2008 award and is currently located at its Corporate Head office in Port Harcourt Nigeria, and has multiple branches throughout Nigeria.

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