FirstBank, Nigeria’s leading financial institution and Africa’s Bank of Choice has expressed its appreciation to the public – especially its customers – for their continued patronage of its services during the COVID 19 lockdown, whilst assuring the public that stringent measures have been implemented to ensure its branches and locations across the country operate in line with the health and safety guidelines issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
Expressing the Bank’s delight at welcoming customers to its branches and locations from Monday, 4 May 2020, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, the Bank’s CEO noted that these safety measures include ensuring personal protection, as wearing face masks is now mandatory; maintaining social distancing by reducing physical contact by at least one meter from the next person and queue guides and markings are in place to guide customers; as well as enhancing the practice of personal hygiene as hand washing stations and hand sanitisers have been provided.
Speaking on the impact made by the Bank across its sub-Saharan business Dr. Adeduntan said “We are glad that our investment in technology over the years has really borne fruit as many of our staff were able to work remotely during the lock down with effective IT support to hand. We were therefore able to actively support our customers, their families and businesses through these challenging times.
We ensured business continuity across eight countries – Nigeria, Ghana; Democratic Republic of Congo; Sierra-Leone; the Gambia, Guinea; Senegal and United Kingdom. We recognize that this has truly been a trying period and are poised to continue to provide as much support as we can to our customers and communities we operate in”.
Coming back home, the Bank’s Chief explained that during this period it proactively reviewed products and services to support customers better and expressed his appreciation to Nigerians for the whole hearted adoption and patronage of its electronic services, as these indeed demonstrated the trust which the public repose in the Bank and in return the Bank commits to always live by its resolve on being true to its mantra – You First.
He said “It is for this reason; putting our customers first, that our Bank working to regulatory, Federal and State Government directives worked assiduously to keep over 50 percent of our branches open across all nooks and crannies of the country.
At the same time the call centre was restaffed in the most efficient manner and retooled as we provided even more opportunities for our customers to reach us for their banking needs”.
He further provided a snapshot of transactions carried out across FirstBank’s e-banking channels during the five-week lockdown in various parts of the country:
• We recorded approximately 12.6 million withdrawals amounting to about N156bn across our ATMs well placed across the country.
• Nigerians with FirstBank cards used them 105 million times to make payments or withdrawals worth about N1.18 Trillion as they relied on us to settle their banking needs
• Our customers made transfers over 106 million times with a total value of about N8.18 Trillion across our digital channels.
• During this period, our 53,000 plus agents have processed over N512bn worth of transactions
• We have also recorded over 275,000 new sign-ups to alternative channels covering our Firstmobile; USSD and First-Online platforms.
As one of the leading SME banks in the country, with a drive to ensure SMEs are supported, Dr. Adeduntan, also stated that FirstBank has enhanced palliatives such as introduction of special waivers on repayment fees on its credit cards, and a 90-day loan moratorium on selected products across markets, to help cushion the impact of the toll on employment and livelihoods.
Our Wholesale business was also not left out as advisory services and a range of financial needs were met to the delight of our Corporate and Commercial customers.
On community impact, the Bank partnered with other organisations in the private sector to collectively help those most impacted by this pandemic. It has contributed N1billion and several volunteer staff towards the efforts of the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) to meet the intervention objectives in the key areas of health; testing, provision of much needed health infrastructure, isolation units and raising public awareness and where needed providing food to the most vulnerable.
This is a time when we all must step up and do our bit by our people and our communities.
In addition FirstBank in keeping with its long standing tradition and focus on educational support and talent development has partnered with several organisations in a bid to help 1 million students access e learning.
“It is important in all this not to forget the children whose needs can so easily be overlooked at a time such as this”.
“As the lock down is lifted nationwide, we will continue to provide seamless service to our customers ensuring the highest levels of support whilst operating as efficiently as possible, ensuring safety of all is paramount and empowering our staff to drive these goals. We will do these with three things in mind: ensuring you are staying safe; supporting your business; and safeguarding our future’’ Dr, Adeduntan said.
Financial Inclusion: FirstBank Promotes Virtual Bank Account Opening
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.
Just In: FG Reduces Petrol Pump Price to N121.50
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency has announced a new pump price band of N121.50 to N123.50 per litre for Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol.
The PPPRA, which is an agency of the Federal Government, disclosed this in a circular to fuel marketers dated May 31, 2020, which was obtained by our correspondent on Monday.
The sharp drop in crude oil prices on the back of the spread of coronavirus saw the landing cost of petrol hitting a record low in March, wiping off subsidy on the product.
The pump price of petrol, which is still being regulated by the Federal Government, was reduced to N125 per litre from N145 per litre on March 18, 2020, effective March 19.
The PPPRA further announced on March 31 a price band of N123.50 to N125 per litre, effective April 1.
Buhari Writes Reps for Another $5.513bn Loan
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the House of Representatives to request for the approval of fresh external borrowings totaling $5.513bn.
Buhari, in the letter read by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the plenary on Thursday, said the funds were for 2020 budget deficit, financing of critical projects, and some states of the federation.
The President also presented a revised 2020 Appropriation Bill and 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
The National Assembly had recently approved a loan of N850bn for the Federal Government, while another of $22.79bn, which the Senate has already approved, is pending before the House.