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FirstBank Sustains Positive Impact, Welcomes Back Customers

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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.

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Ecobank Partners Vanguard Economic Forum Series, Convenes MSME Finance Summit

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Ecobank Nigeria and Vanguard Economic Forum Series have announced that they are convening an MSME virtual summit to promote and encourage lending support for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the face of changing operating environment in the country.

The virtual summit with the theme: Unlocking Credit Growth in a Changing MSME Lending Landscape, will be broadcast and streamed live via zoom platform scheduled for May 21st by 11am.

The conference in strategic partnership with Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME) and Small & Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) will convene keynote speakers and panelist from regulatory agencies of government, policy decision makers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), business and industry thought leaders. The speakers and panelists carefully drawn from the banking, trade associations and other key sectors of the economy are subject matter experts in MSMEs and lending.

Confirmed speakers include Mr Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director/Chief Executive, Bank of Industry (BoI); Dr. Dikko Rada, Director General, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN); Adenike Adeyemi, Executive Director, Fate Foundation; Eke Ubiji, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME) and a representative of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), amongst others. The Guest Of Honour will be the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Jumoke Oduwole, while Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria will be the Chief Host.

Announcing the conference in Lagos, Emeka Agada, Country Head, SME Ecobank Nigeria Limited said the Summit as a thought leadership content platform would deeply dialogue on the critical role of MSMEs as the economic engine room of any prosperous nation and the need to support the sub sector with capital, including examination of key issues and ways of achieving the objective through digital financial inclusion for the MSMEs. He disclosed that there will be audience engagement of members of various trade groups such as NASME (Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises) and SMEDAN (Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency ) with a view to detailing various lending options. He further reiterated that the ‘Ecobank Digital Series’ is in line with the Bank’s vision to consolidate a modern pan-African market, contribute to the economic development and financial integration of the continent.

Also speaking, Jude Ndu, Director, Vanguard Conferences and The Economic Forum Series says: “As a follow up to the hugely successful Ecobank Digital Financial Inclusion virtual summit, we are indeed pleased and delighted with the ongoing high-level strategic partnership with Ecobank Nigeria in the area of concept development, synthesis, design and execution of high profile thematic bespoke events. The upcoming conference speaks to the strong sense of confidence the bank has in us to help curate thought leadership content and context for the brand in line with its marketing objectives.

He noted that the MSME conference would help Ecobank communicate and connect with Nigeria’s largely MSMEs on its lending options and support, adding that the bank will also showcase its strength in the digital banking space such as its innovative digital payment channels like the OmniPlus, Omnilite and digital sales collections channels like Ecobankpay NQR amongst other financial service offerings to close the large financial Inclusion gap and a direct response to mitigating the economic challenge post-COVID-19.

The Ecobank Digital Series is a virtual programme organised by Ecobank to educate and enlighten the public on crucial issues of public interest, especially as it relates to their financial empowerment.

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Listing on LCFE: Heritage Bank-Dukia Gold Set to Unlock N344trn Market Worth of Gold

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Heritage Bank for being part of valuable private sector collaboration with Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Co. Limited is set to unlock the over N344 trillion market worth of gold investible instruments in the solid minerals sector with the concluded plans of being listed on the Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE).

This move that will entrench expand revenue in the non-oil sector through diversification, by stimulating growth in solid minerals in line with the objectives of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) will also put Nigeria on the global map with regards to standardized gold tracing, sourcing procurement and trading it.

In summary, this was disclosed at the LCFE-Dukia Gold media parley held yesterday at the LCFE Trading Floor in Lagos.

Speaking at the parley, the Chairman of Dukia Gold, Tunde Fagbemi who commended Heritage Bank as the project financier and for its other pertinent supports, said Heritage had so far been the banker’s bank for playing key role in backing to promote the first solid mineral listing on Exchange in West Africa.

Specifically, he explained that the instruments which would be in the form of Exchange Traded Notes (ETN), Commercial Papers (CP), and other gold-backed securities would enable the company to deepen the commodities market in Nigeria. He added that it would increase capacity, generate foreign exchange for the government to diversify external reserves and create massive employment across the metal production value chain.

“We are proud to be the first gold company whose products would be listed on the Lagos Futures and Commodities Exchange. The listing shall enable us facilitate our infrastructure development, expand capacity and create fungible products.

“This has potential to shore up Nigeria’s foreign reserve and create an alternative window for preservation of pension funds.

“As a global player, we comply with the practices and procedures of London Bullion Market Association and many other international bodies. “Our refinery will also have multiplier effects on the development of rural areas anywhere it is located. “There must be constant power supply, good road network and other social amenities, apart from employment opportunities for the rural dwellers,” Fagbemi explained.

He also noted that with its current 25 production capacity pound and further room for expansion, Dukia Gold has the ability to meet both local and international demand through its gold refinery services to smelt melts.

Commenting on the collaboration, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo said that the partnership was one of the many initiatives of the bank’s foundational objectives of wealth creation, preservation and transfer across generations.

He further disclosed that the bank offer the gold commodity market three focal contact point in partnership, knowledge and perspective sharing, which ensure that every transaction was auditable to protect investors.

Sekibo who was represented by the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, of the Bank, Olusegun Akanji, said the bank had created a buying centre for verification of quality and quantity of gold and reference price to ensure price discovery in line with the global standard.

Speaking, the MD, LCFE, Akin Akeredolu-Ale, who also commended Heritage Bank for its critical role in aiding the fundraising and the financier institution for the Dukia Gold’s diversified financial instruments, affirmed that this would enhance the company credibility rating and put Nigeria on the global map.

He noted that the LCFE was ready to support all the stakeholders in the gold sector in the areas of market creation, price discovery, and dissemination of market information, among others.

Gbenga Awe, Divisional Head, Agribusiness, Natural Resources & Project Devt., of Heritage Bank noted that one of the benefits of this initiative was that the local miners could now trade their gold at the bank’s designated experience centers, as solid foundation had been created for market, price and asset discovery.

Akintola noted that the firm had the capability, technicalities and the necessary accreditation to operate in the gold value chain.

He stated that the listing on the Lagos Commodities would raise awareness of performance of Dukia Gold to the investing world and position it as foremost number one Precious Metals Refining Company in Nigeria.

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Financial Literacy: Unity Bank Begins One Minute Genius 2.0

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In its drive to boost financial literacy among students in primary and secondary schools across the nation, Nigerian lender, Unity Bank Plc has flagged off Season 2 of its pioneer educational gameplay, the One Minute Genius, OMG.

The OMG 2.0 game play, which kicked off in May 3, 2021, on the Unity Bank’s Website (www.omg.unitybankng.com) is an expanded version of the maiden edition to be played virtually.

Over 200 winners will emerge at the end of the 25-day contest. To win prizes in any of categories, participating students can play the virtual game from Monday to Friday between 8 AM – 6 PM.

The One Minute Genius (OMG) is an initiative that underscores Unity Bank’s commitment to the development of the next generation, as it seeks to connect with their aspirations and reinforce the importance of education as a vehicle to empower the Nigerian child. Children and students between the ages of 6 –17 years can participate in the game.

According to the Divisional Head, Retail/SME & E-business, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Olufunwa Akinmade, the idea is to enable the participants improve their intelligence quotient and unleash the genius in them.

Mr Olufunwa further explained that the game will be played as a blend of quizzes containing spelling Bee and Arithmetic questions. “The children that answer the questions correctly within the one-minute stipulated timeframe will be rewarded with cash prizes”, he quips.

Throwing more light on the initiative, Mr. Olufunwa said, “the Bank has decided to continue investing in the game play because it is pleased with the impact which the previous editions of the contest had created being a vehicle for reinvigorating the values of education through gamification and fun”.

Still speaking, Mr, Olufunwa stated: “Unity Bank remains committed to playing a critical role in advancing learning for a better society by developing the minds of our children. And this virtual, participatory learning and reward contest has proved quite effective in achieving the goals of motivating the students towards subject mastery using a branch of reinforcement model”

He added: “On the heels of COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted negatively on the education sector in Nigeria by disrupted learning, an activity such as the OMG provides a veritable opportunity to boost learning, even as all stakeholders continue to make deliberate efforts to cater to the needs of our future generation.

“We hope that parents and guardians will encourage their wards with every support needed to enable the students explore the opportunity that this provides.”

Recall that the 2o20 edition of the OMG attracted massive interests from across Nigeria, producing no fewer than 120 winners who coasted home with millions of naira in cash rewards.

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