First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced that it has reinforced its technology infrastructure to enable anyone in the country open a FirstBank account through their mobile phones, without visiting any of its branches nationwide.
The investment in the Bank’s mobile banking infrastructure is in furtherance of the need to deepen financial inclusion in the country, enabling account opening to be carried out on its *894# USSD banking, FirstMobile (self-service telephone banking), its website – www.firstbanknigeria.com – as well as the Bank’s staff, through the Direct Sales Executive (DSE) application installed on their mobile phone, ATMs and the bank’s over 55,000 FirstMonie Agents spread across the country. Opening an account with FirstBank through any of these means is seamless, convenient, fast, and user-friendly.
The DSE App is an end to end encrypted mobile application installed on the phone(s) of FirstBank staff which enables them to open an account for to-be customers. Upon the completion of the account opening process via the DSE App, the customer is notified of his or her account number through a text message on the mobile phone used to register the account.
With FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking, various banking activities are carried out on a mobile phone – across the four major GSM network operators in the country – without the use of the internet. To open an account via this means, dial *894# then select ‘open an account’ to provide the information required or by simply dialling *894*0#. The Bank currently has over 9.5 million of its nearly 20 million customers on its USSD banking platform.
The FirstMonie Agent Banking is an agent banking initiative from the bank that is designed to take banking closer to people, thereby bridging the gap between the banked and unbanked. FirstMonie is a channel through which various banking activities like FirstBank account opening, funds transfer, bill payments, data and call credit recharge services, amongst others are carried out. The Agent Banking initiative has also contributed to reducing poverty, being responsible for the indirect employment of over 150,000 people across the country.
According to Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “beyond opening an account in any of our over 700 branches, we are delighted with the investments at reinventing our business processes over the years, especially with the use of technology. This has been critical to staying relevant in the industry for over 126 years and being the financial partner of the first choice to all our customers and Nigerians, irrespective of where they are.”
Creating these virtual ways of opening a bank account with us – thus; the staff DSE App, ATMs, FirstMonie Agents, *894# USSD banking, FirstMobile and our website – reinforces our resolve to ensure that more Nigerians and residents have access to banking, especially through our state of the art financial services and we remain resolute to being the key to banking, enabling business and financial activities that would continue to propel the country’s economic growth and development.
FirstBank Deepens Financial Inclusion with Largest Agent Banking Network, Empowers SMES
At present, there are over 86,000 banking agents across 772 out of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, a demonstration of FirstBank’s commitment to deepening financial inclusion and ensuring the unbanked are adequately catered for. In an interview with BusinessDay, Adesola Adeduntan, FirstBank’s CEO, noted that over N9.6 trillion had been processed through the bank’s agent network.
As he explained, FirstMonie agents have supported several government and NGOs’ cash transfers to the poorest of the poor in the rural areas. Additionally, selected FirstMonie agents in the rural communities are equipped with BVN enrolment devices; as such they are able to enrol and open accounts for rural dwellers that hitherto may not have had the opportunity to be included in the formal financial services system.
The bank’s commitment to providing access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) was also highlighted by the CEO, who hinged this on “their potential to impact the economy”.
He discussed the bank’s value adding solutions that have created a functional ecosystem for SMEs to thrive. The ecosystem includes propositions such as connection of the SMEs to talents and resources/cutting edge tools, access to business finance and market, capacity building opportunities and policy advocacy.
These are all aggregated on its SMEConnect platform as value adding products and services for easy access and at rates (prices) that are competitive and mostly discounted. The SMEConnect is a digital platform that allows the SMEs connect to FirstBank’s offerings from the comfort of their locations anywhere in the world.
This, according to Adeduntan, has been well received by the SME community as we engage across the country.
Culled from BusinessDay
AfCFTA: We Are Well-Positioned to Make Payments Smooth for Our Customers – Ecobank CEO
The Group Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Ade Ayeyemi, has affirmed that the pan-African banking group is facilitating smooth and instant payments across Africa as countries start the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
Ayeyemi who made this assertion during an interview with the media recently, pointed out that Ecobank has been able to effect international payment across the 33 countries where it operates on the continent through its Rapid Transfer platform. He reiterated that the bank’s platform can be scaled to accommodate other African countries under the AfCFTA based on their respective regulations.
According to the Ecobank Group Chief, the banking group is one of the key supporters of the AfCFTA which he believes will be of great benefit to both the continent and customers of the bank. “With this Pan-African exposure, the governments and our customers will re-evaluate their businesses to efficiently take charge of bigger opportunities. So, if you manufacture goods in Aba for the Nigerian market, you can now start thinking of how to expand your manufacturing capacity to be able to export across West Africa and also other African countries, not just looking at Nigeria as a market alone. And as you change your demand forecast, you need to now improve your capacity to produce and that will mean importing new machinery to expand your manufacturing base, develop bigger market and hire more people.”
He is optimistic that the introduction of the AfCFTA would curb the regulations and government policies limiting the flow of foreign exchange. “Banks will work with other banks like Afrexim Bank to provide a swift payment platform as Africa will be the first market for most African products. For instance, there is no need for Nigeria to import rubber from Malaysia when rubber is being exported by Côte d’Ivoire. It is better within the African space. So, there is a whole range of businesses that we are having conversations with our customers, the governments and the African Union, because of our pan-African presence.”
The AfCFTA which came into effect this January, aims at creating a single African wide market for goods and services. It will pave the way for rapid dismantling of impediments to cross-border trade leading to free movement of business, persons and investments across the continent, thus leading to the establishment of the Customs Union. It will bring together all 55 AU member states, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people. It is set to be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization In terms of numbers of participating countries.
Union Bank Renews Commitment to CSR
As part of efforts to drive sustainable social impact, Union Bank and its employees have established communal water boreholes in six underserved communities across Nigeria, directly impacting over 15,000 people.
The bank said this in a statement titled ‘Driving social impact: Union Bank and employees provide six communities with potable water’.
It stated that the donations, which provided the gift of water to one community from each of the six geopolitical regions of the country, formed part of activities to mark Union Bank’s 2020 Employee Volunteer Day.
The statement said EVDay, which was introduced in 2019, reinforced Union Bank’s commitment to building a workforce conscious about giving back to the communities where they live and work.
It said that this year, the gift of water project was selected to provide more Nigerians in underserved communities with access to potable water supply, improving their quality of life and enabling them to maintain the proper handwashing routine advised by the World Health Organisation.
The statement said the communal boreholes were established in Ubulu Uku in Delta State; Gidan Dagachi Kureken Sani in Kano State; Kpebi-Sarki in Abuja; Ohubo Village, Ama Nkanu Community in Enugu State; Sari Iganmu, Orile in Lagos State and Abujan Amare, Gashua in Yobe State.
Commenting on the donations, the Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank, Emeka Emuwa, said, “Union Bank is proud to lead the charge for social impact