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FirstBank: Redefining the ‘Heritage’ of first’ with smart digital banking

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By Ehime Alex, (National Accord)

 

As information technology evolves rapidly, the disruption or advancement in the banking sector will continue to be digitised. Only the bank that can transform itself into truly effective digital organisation and embrace the changes in digital technologies and consumer behaviour will survive and thrive in both the current and future digital environments.

Leveraging experience spanning over a century of dependable services, Nigeria’s premier financial institution, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, also called FirstBank, has kept pace with the evolving global operating environment, responding to the dynamic needs of its customers, investors, regulators, host communities, employees and other stakeholders. Through a balanced approach to plan execution, this iconic banking Brand has consolidated its industry leadership by maintaining trans-generational appeal and continually boosting its customer-base, which cuts across all segments in terms of size, structure and sectors.

With these unbroken business operations experience, FirstBank has continued to build relationships and alliances with key sectors of the economy that have served as strategic building blocks for the wellbeing, growth and development of the country. Also, with its huge asset base and expansive branch network, as well as continuous re-invention, this Nigeria’s strongest banking franchise has maintained market leadership on all fronts in the nation’s financial services industry.

Minds are still refreshing on the 125 years anniversary of this leading financial services solutions provider in Nigeria. A milestone that will continue to speak volume of FirstBank’s journey through the ages, her footprints traversing the nook and cranny of Nations with indelible landmarks of several firsts in the development of the banking industry in Nigeria, and contributions to banking sectors across Africa, the World at large.

It cannot be forgotten in a hurry, not so soon, how on Friday, March 1, 2019, FirstBank had the world stand still as it held its symbolic flag hoisting ceremony across Nigeria and other countries where it does business – a historic happening which officially flags off the bank’s commemoration of attaining the milestone year of 125th.

The last 125 years has passed, FirstBank says it is now focusing in building for the next 125 years and beyond to purposefully blaze the trail in its industry thereby sustaining leadership position and remaining youthful; an effort, no doubt, that is aimed at redefining the “Heritage of First” into the world of digital banking.

According to the digital banking report for 2018, in the past, providing a seamless customer experience has only ever been secondary to other higher priority items for banking institutions.  This has to change to providing digital solutions for customers in and out of the institutional doors.

Meanwhile, before the transition to digital banking in Nigeria, conventional banking system had held sway which historically started in 1952. As it lasted, the industry witnessed a lot of regulatory and institutional advances, with FirstBank notable as one of the five out of 89 banks then; and all through, when in 2004 the banking industry went through reformation.

It could be observed that, when today’s customers evaluate financial institutions, they don’t compare different banks anymore, they compare experiences that impact everything in their lives as consumers for better than ever, with real-time, smart digital services being delivered through various devices 24/7 at the snap of their fingertips.

To survive the digital environment, FirstBank has continued to put in place the right framework to compete and succeed in the banking industry of the future, with goals set to create more efficient operations, higher profits and happier customers, “You First”.

According to FirstBank’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, the digital banking offerings of the Bank have been optimised to ensure ease of banking and convenience via other channels such as FirstMobile app, Firstonline, FirstMonie, USSD banking and WhatsApp banking. Fundamental shifts where staying relevant means becoming an active part of a customer’s digital life!

Explaining about the chat banking on WhatsApp, during one of its occasions, FirstBank’s CEO said, “It is one of the ways First Bank puts You First and enables you to stay connected with your contacts, loved ones, friends and finances all on the go while you chat with them because, at First Bank, we are driven to bolster relationships on all fronts, anywhere and anytime.”

It can also be recalled that, Dr Adeduntan said, “Mobile and digital banking leverages native and responsive digital innovations to deliver aesthetically consistent physical and digital experiences to customers. Thus, we deliver real time event driven information and offer to proactively serve the immediate and long term financial needs of customers.”

As the saying does go, with digital opportunity comes digital risk, FirstBank recognises that as customers continue to gravitate to the ease and speed of digital banking, the associated risks will be on the rise.

Telling it as it were to curb the anticipated risks head-on, FirstBank CEO said, “We have adopted a disciplined approach to deliver unique customer experiences through best in class value and customer service; enabling customers to initiate, pause and restart transactions across various channels at any time. Also, we use advanced analytics to evaluate customer behaviour, determine preferences and deliver personalised customer services.” The FirstBank Boss added that, “The bank is focusing on the feelings and behaviour with the aim to provide real value for the customers so as to have a positive impact with the product and the services provided to its customers.”

With FirstBank’s involvement in every stage of national growth and development, the Bank has recorded laudable feats since the advent of digital banking in Nigeria. Starting from 1991, when the Bank introduced first ATM (automated teller machine) in Marina, Lagos, it now has more than 2,700 ATMs across its 730 business locations, 18,000 Agent Banking spread and has earned itself the 2nd Bank in Africa and 1st in Nigeria to issue 10 million cards.

In 2007, FirstBank introduced the innovative credit administration software called Innovative Finnone credit administration software, being the first bank in Africa to pioneer the service. Other notable corporate transformation projects included the launch of FirstContact, the 24/7 multi-lingual integrated and interactive customer service contact centre, a key component of FirstBank’s service delivery transformation, which revolutionised customer feedback processes.

FirstBank is also the first to launch Biometric ATM in Nigeria, consistent with its tradition of pioneering far-reaching innovation in the financial services industry. In 2010, FirstBank becomes the first organisation to be granted notable international standardization certifications, the prestigious Information Security Management System (ISMS) Certification, which is the world’s highest accreditation for information protection and security; and Business Continuity Management System Certification, both from the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), following rigorous certification processes by the British Standards Institution (BSI), a leading organization in the field of auditing management systems and processes.

In 2011, FirstBank launched the first Cash Deposit ATM. The Bank has earned recognition as the “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” by the African Banker, attesting to its forward-thinking approach; and named “Nigeria’s Number One Banking Brand” by Brand Finance Top 500 Banking Brands by The Banker, an international banking magazine published by Financial Times, Ltd.

Acknowledged by Interswitch, Africa-focused integrated digital payments and commerce company, as the first financial institution in Nigeria to achieve 100 million sustained monthly transactions in electronic payment, in December 2015 and again in May 2016. Same year, FirstBank celebrated 20 years of partnership with Western Union Money Transfer.

In 2017, FirstBank total number of Firstmonie (FirstBank money wallet) users hit 4,035,307 and with over 6 million digital banking users (the fastest mobile banking penetration across Africa).

Indeed, FirstBank is the first indigenous organisation in Nigeria to launch Human Resource Solution in the Cloud. As at 2018, it won Best Retail Bank in Nigeria (an award given by the renowned Asian Banker Awards) for the 7th consecutive time. In that same year, processes the highest number of transactions on electronic channels in the industry annually, representing above 1.6 billion (about 33 per cent of the industry volume).

Awarded a second time back-to-back recognition for Digital Bank of Distinction, Nigeria; Firstbank, last year, won the Best Bank in Nigeria award for the 15th time, both by Global Finance Magazine.

By and large, FirstBank continues to seek out better solutions to digitise its offerings whilst optimising its workflow and lowering operational costs for the future ahead in digital banking.

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BUSINESS

Titan Trust Bank set for grand entry into Nigeria

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Barring any last-minute changes, one of the five new banks licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Titan Trust Bank Limited is set for entry into the Nigerian banking industry in grand style, in a matter of weeks, The Witness can authoritatively reveal.

The Witness had reported that the CBN recently approved licenses for five new banks to operate in the country.

While others are still recruiting and putting things in place, inside sources say Titan Trust, a national financial institution, has completed its processes and is set for take-off soon.

Led by seasoned banker and former deputy governor of the CBN, Mr. Tunde Lemo as chairman, the new commercial bank, sources informed The Witness is starting operation with a solid post capitalization financial base in real cash.

Some of those already on board the new bank are experienced financial gurus, giving the signal that the bank is ready the compete with the long-standing and well-rooted Nigerian banks.

According to the lender, the bank was formed to take advantage of the identified gaps in the banking sector and address the unmet needs of the retail mass market, SMEs and corporates.

The new bank headquartered at Plot 1680, Sanusi Fafunwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria has the following facilities: Commercial Banking, SME Banking, Digital Banking amongst others. On its commercial banking services, the lender said on its website: “As a national commercial bank, we are committed to supporting businesses, giving them the power to build a better future. Each day, companies are working together to create sustainable economic value.

“We are committed to that vision by ensuring we provide business capital and resources, primed to support these visions, as we continue to tell Africa’s story.”

Titan Trust Bank believes there is nothing like a small business. “All businesses are exactly that; businesses! Our team is made of professionals with an entrepreneurial mindset, working to help you and your business take advantage of the many benefits of banking with Titan, and give your competition a run for their money,” it said.

Titan Trust further posited that it will leverage on digital platforms to empower the emerging pan-African economy, whilst showcasing the industry pioneering solutions, expertise and professionalism.

Established on the 12th of December 2018, the bank obtained its national banking license on the 26th of April 2019, to operate as a commercial bank with national authorization.​

Titan Trust Bank Logo

 

 

OTHERS IN THE TITAN TEAM

Mr. Andrew Ojei

Mr. Andy Ojei is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria as well as a Fellow and Council Member of The Institute of Credit Administration of Nigeria.

He was the pioneer managing director of Zenith Bank, Ghana. He left Zenith Bank Plc in June 2013 as an executive director after 21 years of service. He is a seasoned businessman with interests in real estate and information technology.

Ojei, an alumnus of the University of Lagos, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, INSEAD (France), Stanford (Singapore) and Wharton (Philadelphia) currently serves as a member of the Governing Council of Ritman University, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State.

 

Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed

Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed is a seasoned entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience managing and leading businesses across the country.

He is the managing director of Syndicated Investment Limited, a construction firm. He has held this post for over 33 years.

He has also been the chairman/CEO of Impex Limited, a security, contracting and trading company since 1993.​

 

Alhaji Aminu Bashari

Alhaji Bashari Aminu (Iyan Zazzau), is the chairman of the Board of Directors of Vital Products Limited.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Financial Accountants (UK) and a Fellow of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria. He is a senior title holder in the Emirate of Zazzau and was a Senior District Head of Sabon-Gari, Zaria in Kaduna State from 1979 to 2018.

He is currently on the board of several companies.​

 

Mudassir Amray – MD/CEO

Mudassir Amray is a banker with over 25 years of global exposure across six geographies (US, Nigeria, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Pakistan).

He has held senior positions in global banks such as: Citi New York – Managing Director & Head of Global Capital Management (LATAM), Citi Nigeria – Managing Director & Head of Corporate & Investment Banking, Nigeria and Ghana, Al Rajhi Malaysia – Country Business Head, Citi HK – Head of Capital Management, Asia Pacific, Citi Singapore – Head of Islamic Banking, Asia Pacific, Citi Pakistan, Country Business Head.​

 

Adaeze Udensi – Executive Director​

Adaeze has over 23 years’ banking experience, and was until recently, an Executive Director in Heritage Bank.

In her four years as executive director, she supervised the South businesses; oversaw Retail, Private Wealth, Collections, E-Business, Customer Experience and IT functions; and served as Executive Compliance Officer.

Adaeze also acted as managing director of Heritage Bank in 2017. Prior to this, she spent 16 years in Zenith Bank growing its Oil & Gas, Public Sector, Commercial and Retail businesses into the 2nd largest portfolio in the Bank, leaving as a general manager.

Adaeze has a first degree in banking, and MBA’s from Rivers State University of Science & Technology, and the University of Bangor, Wales.

She has also attended several Executive Management Programmes in Wharton Business School, Kellogg School of Management, Harvard Business School, and INSEAD.​

 

Stella Nwihim – Head of HR

Stella is a seasoned professional with over 21 years’ experience spanning Human Resources, Sales and Banking Operations.

She has held key HR positions in Zenith Bank Plc and UBA Plc including Head Workforce Planning, Head Shared Services and Head Business Partnering, where she made significant contributions in organizational development, performance and change management and business strategy.

She holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. (Biology) and an MBA (Management) and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

 

Mark Oguh – CFO

Mark has 22 years’ experience in the banking industry covering Operations, Audit and Financial Control.

He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in accountancy and business administration and an MBA in banking and finance. He was the financial controller at Diamond Bank from 2015 to March 31, 2019.​

 

Ademola Ajayi – Chief Compliance Officer

Ademola Ajayi is the chief compliance officer of Titan Trust Bank Limited. He holds Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting (First Class Honours) from Babcock University, Ilishan Ogun State. He also holds Higher National Diploma in accounting with Upper credits class from the Polytechnic, Ibadan. He is a fellow (FCA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN). He is also an Associate of Compliance Institute of Nigeria (CIN). He is a Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) registered Compliance Officer and a registered professional of Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN). Internationally, he is a Certified Compliance Officer (CCO) and Certified Fraud and Crime; Investigation and Prevention by GAFM USA. He is also a fellow of GAFM USA.

He has been in the Nigerian Banking Sector since 1996, well over 2 decades, with experience cutting across financial control, credit review and monitoring, business development, banking operations, internal controls, internal audit, inspection and compliance functions. His career in banking started in NAL Merchant Bank, where he did the mandatory one year national youth service. Immediately after his service year, he was recruited by Zenith Bank, where he performed creditably well in banking operations generally, controls and risk management related functions, and later with specific focus on compliance risk management role. He played a key role in setting up compliance department in Zenith Bank and took same to an enviable height. Ademola AJAYI is a team player, and will positively impact any team he finds himself. He has attended compliance trainings, locally and internationally. He is also a competent trainer on compliance matters.

 

George Aiyudu – Head of IT

George is a certified COBIT implementer with over 21 years banking experience covering Banking Operations, International Operations and Information Technology.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and also holds a Masters Degree in Business Information Systems. He was the Group Head, IT Change and Transformation at Diamond Bank.

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BUSINESS

Fidelity Bank partners NIPOST, launches agency banking

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>> >> L - R: Head Digital Financial Services, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Stephen Ambore;Managing Director, Threeline Ltd, Mr. Femi Omogbenugu; Deputy Managing Director,Fidelity Bank Plc, Mohammed Balarabe; Postmaster General/CEO, NIPOST , Mr Bisi Adegbuyi; Head Northern Directorate, Fidelity Bank, Hassan Imam, and GM, Financial Service Business Unit, NIPOST, Muktar Baba during the launch of bank@post; a TSA/Agent Banking initiative between NIPOST and Fidelity Bank in Abuja on Thursday

To make financial inclusion a reality, Fidelity Bank is collaborating with the Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST) to bring modern banking services directly to people in 266 rural areas.

Speaking at the launch of integrated banking services between the bank and NIPOST in Abuja on Thursday, Deputy Managing Director of the bank Mr. Mohammed Balarabe said the lender was collaborating with NIPOST as part of its financial inclusion strategy by deploying all its banking services in 266 locations using NIPOST offices in locations lacking banking facilities.

These initial 266 locations he said will be increased over time to capture other locations using NIPOST offices.

Under this collaboration, bank customers can use POS, deposit into any bank operating in Nigeria, withdraw from any bank account in Nigeria, engage in ATM transactions, transfer to any bank account, carry out payment services like taxes, rates and levies; school fees; electricity bills and satellite television subscriptions.

In his address, Post Master General of the Federation (PMG) and Chief Executive Officer of NIPOST Mr. Bisi Adegboye said NIPOST “the sleeping giant has come back to life to fulfil its Corporate Social Responsibility.”

He said: “The internet has taken away the old ways of making money from NIPOST but has also opened exponential opportunities by leveraging on new technology and ICT to tap into current trends of transactions like online purchases.”

NIPOST he assured will make itself relevant to change the lives of Nigerians.

One of such changes is that NIPOST now plans to give every Nigerian a digital address yo make easy for Nigerians to access credit and resolve issues surrounding identity management in the country.

Adegboye said “this partnership also avails Fidelity Bank the opportunity to expand its network using the over 1800 post office facilities nationwide to take banking closer to the people in line with the Federal government’s Financial Inclusion policy which places high premium on providing financial services to the under-banked and unbanked populace, who work in the informal sector of the economy without or less access to financial services.”

He added that “the integrated Agency Banking services incorporate the collections of a treasury single account (TSA) on a single platform. With this development, it means that NlPOST customers can also get banking services in the Post offices nationwide and can deposit and withdraw money, including payment of bills for utility services in Post offices where these services are available without stress.”

The collaboration he stated has “added impetus to NIPOST revenue drive as it would no doubt boost our revenue profile in addition to tradition postal services.”

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BUSINESS

NASCON targets increased market share via product innovation

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Director, NASCON Allied Industries Plc, Halima Aliko Dangote; Executive Director, Commercial, NASCON Allied Industries Plc, Fatima Aliko Dangote; Managing Director, NASCON Allied Industries Plc, Paul Farrer; and Chairperson, NASCON Allied Industries Plc. ‘Yemisi Ayeni, at the 2018 Annual General Meeting of NASCON Allied Industries Plc, in Lagos on June 13, 2019.

NASCON Allied Industries Plc is targeting more market share in the food sector through increased product range and innovation. According to Executive Director, Commercial of NASCON, Fatima Aliko-Dangote, the company, which added three new products in 2018, would be introducing more products this year as part of strategies to meet the needs of its varied customer base.

Fatima Aliko-Dangote, who spoke at the annual general meeting of the Dangote Industries Limited subsidiary held in Lagos yesterday, said NASCON products are widely accepted in the market.

Managing Director, NASCON, Paul Farrer said the company, having demonstrated its resilience in the challenging environment of 2018, is strongly focused on capacity growth and increased market penetration. He disclosed that the company would be leveraging on a number of synergies including improved output in terms of quality, quantity and business efficiency to deliver value for all stakeholders.

On the new products introduced in 2018, he said, “…we launched the Dangote Stew Mix, Dangote Curry and Dangote Classic seasoning. These three products are part of a wider product enrichment plan to diversify our product portfolio. The products were specifically developed to meet and surpass the needs of our consumers across the country. Each of these products has been tailored to suit the local taste and cooking habits of the different regions in Nigeria. We would continue to differentiate ourselves in our product category by consistently delivering high quality, nutritious products.”

Shareholders at the AGM took turns to laud the board and management of NASCON for a good outing in 2018 and counselled the latter to do better in the present year. A shareholder, Olagoke Olusegun commended the quality of the board of directors, which he said consists of vibrant and experienced members who oversee and influence the activities of the management team. According to him, the good synergy between the board and management is seen in the performance of the company despite the harsh operating environment manufacturing companies faced in the year 2018.

He also tasked the management to pay more attention to the welfare of staff who are key to the performance of the company. He said, management should adhere to the best operating guidelines in order not to run afoul of regulatory agencies’ requirements.

A leading shareholders’ rights’ activist, Sunny Nwosu, in his remarks, lauded the board and management of NASCON for their ability to declare and pay dividends despite the harsh operating environment which resulted from the Apapa Wharf gridlock and the downturn in the national economy. He said while other companies are lamenting and cutting down on production, the company is paying dividend which is commendable.

Another shareholder, Mrs. Funke Godswill, also commended the performance of the company but lamented the impact of Apapa Wharf traffic which she said hinders optimal performance of companies within the axis. Sunday Apu, a concerned shareholder, bemoaned the issue of smuggling of salt products through the borders which erodes the market share of NASCON. He called on the management to collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service in order to curb the spate of smuggling which stifles domestic production.

Mrs. Bisi Bakare, in her contribution, commended the quality of the product mix from NASCON which she says compares with the best in the market. She also lauded the board and management for the company’s dividend policy, and paying of dividends consistently for the past eleven years. Another shareholders’ rights’ activist, Murktar Murktar said NASCON is garnering more market share through the introduction of three new products in 2018.

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