Banks; Chatbot; Digital transformation; Emerging market; Financial inclusion; Nigeria
Purpose: Recognising the high numbers of unbanked and financially excluded adults in Nigeria, this study aims to position chatbot as a digital transformation tool to radically change business model, improve customer experience and enhance financial inclusion in emerging markets. Design/methodology/approach: The Search-Access-Test (S-A-T) model was adopted to understand how Nigerian banks are adopting chatbots. Findings: A majority of Nigerian banks now have chatbots that enhance customer engagement and financial inclusion. WhatsApp was the most frequently used platform. Chatbots were often branded and presented with female gender identification. The chatbots were less responsive beyond their predefined path. While Nigeria is a multilingual country with English being the original language, none of the chatbots used any of the Nigerian’s local languages. Practical implications: Brands need to re-evaluate their chatbots with regard to responsiveness, predefined questions, verification and privacy. There are also possibilities of branding the chatbot and developing content creation strategies for proper engagement. Beyond English, the integration of African languages into chatbot is essential for digital transformation. Digital literacy and skills, particularly in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, should be supported to equip future developers and create more jobs. Originality/value: While many theoretically based models for investigating the adoption of digital technologies have often placed focus on users’ ability to engage, this study takes an alternative perspective; by using the S-A-T model, it lays the responsibilities on the banks and chatbot developer to ensure that their chatbots are secure, responsive and able to meet the needs of the customers.