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Bank of Abyssinia (BOA) customers have faced inconvenience with accessing the bank’s digital services due to issues following recent updates to the bank’s mobile banking app and core banking system.

BOA Mobile, the mobile banking app of Abyssinia, which has over 100,000 downloads on the Play Store, was updated on February 17, 2023, with the new version intended to improve UI/UX, facilitate easy activation, and provide biometric authentication.

However, many users have found the updated app to be more problematic than its predecessor, expressing a preference for the old version.

Customers have reported various problems, including the app frequently crashing, making even simple transactions difficult, and logging in becoming a hassle. Users have also experienced failed login attempts with endless loading screens and involuntary logouts. In addition to these issues, they have noted that the app often freezes and stops working during transactions, such as money transfers, and displays incorrect payment titles.

A top review on the Play Store, which 61 people found helpful, states, “The previous version was much more stable, fast, and reliable. This version is the worst….  Fix it ASAP. Abyssinia used to be the best in their app. I have never experienced any glitch or the above-mentioned problems from the previous version.”

Another user review states, “The update is the worst, I mean I have no words for how infuriating it is.” Similar to the reviews on the Play Store, users on the App Store have also left negative feedback, criticizing the update.

Besides the mobile banking app upgrade, BOA’s core banking has also received an update recently, transitioning to the latest Temenos T-24 (Transact), a widely used digital core-banking solution.

Last month, the BOA announced a system upgrade was scheduled for March 19 and 20, aimed at improving service delivery to customers. The bank informed customers that all branches and virtual banking centers would be affected, with the exception of ATMs. A week later, the bank took to social media to announce the successful completion of the upgrade and express gratitude to its customers for their patience.

In a written statement sent to Shega, BOA, which serves more than 9.4 million customers, acknowledged the problems its customers faced.

“We have received recent customer feedback that has highlighted the inconvenience caused by our recent core banking technology upgrade. We fully acknowledge that such issues can be expected during the stabilization period of core system upgrades, which can cause disruptions for up to 10-15 days after implementation,” stated BOA.

“However, we proactively disclosed the upgrade process in advance to our customers and officially apologized via our owned media channels for any discomfort experienced during the update. We remain dedicated to ensuring a seamless experience with our digital services and have made an alternative channel available during this time,” the Bank added.

The Bank’s statement also mentions that they are actively working to address the issues with the upgrade, and have engaged experienced professionals from Temenos and a consulting firm for additional support during the process. They also have an internal senior technical team in charge of resolving the problems.

This is the latest challenge for BOA, which is one of the largest commercial banks in the country. In January 2023, the National Bank of Ethiopia decided to halt the scheduled launch of “Apollo,” an end-to-end digital banking platform powered by BOA. Apollo offers a wide range of services beyond mobile banking, including personal loans, salary advances, and credit options.

However, the self-registration feature within the Apollo platform required authorization from the central bank, and the launch was delayed until the Bank got the green light. Discussions are still ongoing regarding Apollo.

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Kaleab Girma, an Addis Ababa-based reporter and researcher, with over six years of experience in the field. He currently serves as Shega's Editor-in-Chief and specializes in reporting on small businesses, innovation, technology, and startups in Ethiopia.

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