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Banking Sector

Unity Bank Sustains Momentum, as Profits Rise by 43% in Q1/2021

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Nigeria’s foremost agric lender, Unity Bank Plc has sustained the growth momentum demonstrated in its 2020 full year earnings as it recorded an impressive performance of 43% in both profit before and after tax in Q1-2021. 

In the Bank’s unaudited Q1-2021 results submitted to the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Friday, the retail lender’s Profit Before Tax grew by 43% to N784.3million from N550.1 million recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.

The Profit After Tax for the period which also grew by 43% stood at N721.5million compared to the N506.1million recorded in Q1-2020.

As an outcome of increased focus on supporting local enterprises and industry, the asset portfolio also showed a significant growth in loan book of 76% as net loans and advances to customers increased to N223.2billion up from N126.6billion recorded in the corresponding period.

The total assets of the Bank for the period showed an appreciable growth of 42% to close at N521.5 billion from N366.8 billion in the corresponding period of 2020. The balance sheet of the bank had been considerably de-risked with an NPL ratio of near zero per cent (0%) which it had consistently maintained over time, thus making the Bank to rank as one of the best in risk management and credit creation culture.

The Bank recorded gross earnings of N11.5billion, representing marginal decline of 3% when compared to N11.9billion posted in the corresponding period of 2020. The remarkable positive growth in profit and other strong indicators recorded in Q1-2021 is a sign of the Bank’s growing resilience as the economy continues on a recovery path following the impacts of COVID-19 pandemics.

Other key highlights of the Q1-2021 results included the cash and balances with the Central Bank which recorded a whopping 326% leap to close at N111.2billion from N26.1billion in the corresponding period of 2020.

The lender also grew its customer deposits by 13% to N348.3billion up from N308.8billion recorded in the period under review, a strong indication of the growing popularity and acceptance of the Bank’s array of innovative products and services and the arrays of new technologies deployed in its operations to enhance high level of customers’ experience and service delivery.

Interest and similar income also recorded a marginal increase of 1% to N9.7billion compared to N9.6 billion posted in the corresponding quarter of 2020. However, net interest income recorded a 16% increase to N4.8billion from N4.1billion in the corresponding period of 2020.

Total operating income also rose by 3% to N6.6billion from N6.4billion, even as the net operating income rose by 12% to close at N6.7billion from N5.9billion in the corresponding period of 2020. 

Commenting on the result, the Managing Director/CEO, Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Tomi Somefun said that the first quarter result is a promising indication of better outcome for the year, profoundly reflecting the Bank’s renewed focus on driving efficiency and productivity anchored on targeted initiatives to grow both volume and quality of assets and offer a wide range of customer-centric products supported by novel technologies to its teeming and growing customers in all the six-geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

The top-line performance was driven by improvement in net interest income margins which reported 16% growth. To this, Mrs. Somefun stated the Bank’s is replicating the same momentum in the area of liability generation and to gain traction, “we are targeting opportunities across regions and identified segments in retail and SMEs whilst optimising our technology and digital platforms such as Omni-channel UniFi, USSD *7799# to deliver bundled product bouquet, operational efficiency and improved unparalleled customer service delivery. Like the multi-language service channels, customers are to expect more innovations as the year unfolds”.

Looking ahead, the Unity Bank’s Chief further stated: “The Bank will consolidate on the gains it has made on its assets growth and further build the franchise of the brand in many areas of the business to shake off any lethargy to galvanize efficiency across its earning assets, thereby diversifying its earnings base to further grow the bottom-line”.

The Bank will thus continue to play formidably and efficiently in the area of its strength especially in the niche space of agribusiness to get more involved in the value chain banking having firmly established its strong foothold in the financing of primary crop production such as rice, maize, cotton, wheat, sorghum, etc. coupled with their rich and robust structures in value creation. In her words, “we hope to continue to expand on this as we play our part in driving the nations’s quest for self-sufficiency in food production, employment generation, foreign exchange conservation and all allied advantages that come with agribusiness.”

Analysts commend the Q1-2021 result for the strong fundamentals and for the positive outlook in the future, even as market confidence continues to reflect encouraging momentum and the steady growth of the Bank’s balance sheet.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Banking Sector

Ecobank Partners NiDCOM to Mobilise Nigerians Abroad for National Development

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In a bid to fulfill it’s objectives and mandate, the Pan African Bank has promised to support Nigerians living and working abroad through it’s partnership with NiDCOM.

The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has stated that the bank is privileged to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NiDCOM) and will continue to pursue one of its key mandates of helping to enhance the economic development and integration of Africa through its support to Nigerians living and working abroad.

Speaking at the maiden edition of the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series with Ecobank as the sole banking partner which took place on Saturday, 8th May 2021, he noted that Ecobank remains a critical bridge for Nigerians abroad, as it has made huge investments in the necessary platforms to enable them connect with home seamlessly. The event held online and had over 2000 participants from across all the continents in attendance.

“Nigerians in the diaspora play a major role in nation building, their contribution goes a long way to catalyse economic development. For us at Ecobank, we are a pan-African institution positioned to foster the economic growth and integration of our continent, so we are particularly pleased to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), ably led by the Chairman/CEO, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa”.

“We are committed to ensuring that every Nigerian living abroad is able to remit home seamlessly and affordably, access viable investment opportunities and as the financial institution of choice for Nigerians abroad, we have deployed the necessary resources to actualise this.” He stated.

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who was also present, reiterated the readiness of the government to collaborate with Nigerians in the diaspora, highlighting the new processes put in place to facilitate passport issuance, noting that all backlog of passport applications would be cleared by the end of May 2021.

Also speaking, the Hon. Minister of State, Foreign Affairs Amb. Zubairu Dada said harnessing the human capital and material resources of Nigerians in the diaspora towards the socio-economic, cultural, and political development of Nigeria can no longer be ignored. He pointed out that the Nigerian diaspora community is well educated, resourceful, skilled, and exposed to global best practices.

The NiDCOM Chairman/CEO, Hon. Abike Dabiri- Erewa explained that the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series is projected to be a major aspect of national discourse, where Nigerians abroad can be kept abreast of the government’s policies, programmes and projects.

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Banking Sector

Wema Bank Unveils Hackaholics 2.0 Bootcamp Winners, Gives Out Over N8M Seed Fund

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Wema Bank’s Hackaholics 2.0, an acceleration aimed at helping startups scale and gain entrance into the market, came to an exciting end as the finalists were unveiled on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, at the Bank’s corporate head office in Marina, Lagos.

Themed, “Connecting Worlds” the Acceleration Program was a two-day virtual pitch which ran from October 30 – 31, 2020, for 20 participants across five industry pillars – Fintech, Agritech, Edutech, Gaming, and Healthtech, who qualified from a pool of over 100 entries received.

The Bank presented four startups comprising two people each with N2,187,500.00 startup fund. The winners emerged across each industry after a four-week Bootcamp under the supervision of a best-in-class acceleration curriculum delivered by seasoned faculty and tech specialists from GreenHouse Capital, official partners of the event.

The Managing Director/CEO, Wema Bank, Ademola Adebise congratulated the winners and expressed satisfaction with the quality of competition and the entire process.

“We are happy to see the winners emerge and are positive that you guys will be the unicorns of tech solutions in the next couple of years,” he said.

“For us at Wema Bank, we will continue to support innovations and innovative ideas, support our youths, and support our women to thrive. We believe that is the way to go and significantly grow and support the economy,” Adebise said.

The winning start-ups are:

Fintech Category: Oladayo Awotukunbo of Plumpter, a Fintech brand that created a marketplace for secure payments to foreign parties and quick banking.

Gaming/Betting Category: Ernest Akinlola and Obayemi Okubajo of My Lotto Hub, a digital startup pioneering the aggregation of lottery operators and enabling lottery punters to manage all their operations in a single platform

Agritech Category: Aderinola Amole and Olamide Oyinlola of FarmSquare, a brand that focuses on using the e-commerce model to simplify the demand and supply of Agricultural inputs in Nigeria.

Healthtech Category: Uche Udekwe and Joy Chioma of Natal Cares, a startup with a product that optimizes the healthcare value chain to reduce the high mortality rate for pregnant women and children.

Speaking at the event, Chief Financial Officer, Wema Bank, Tunde Mabawonku, reinforced the internal and external growth integration stance of the bank saying: “We realized very early that financial service delivery has moved beyond bricks and mortar physical interactions, hence, at Wema Bank we repositioned internally, invested strategically and heavily in technology to drive Digital Optimization of our services”.

“Second, we realized we can’t innovate all from within, we need to drive innovation from outside. We then created “Hackaholics” the Wema Bank Hackathon. The idea is to bring fresh minds, fresh ideas, fresh insights, into solving day-to-day societal problems leveraging technology. We are also working with third-party resource providers we can invest in to grow the solutions for societal impact”. Mabawonku added.

Chief Digital Officer, Wema Bank, Segun Adeniyi emphasized the importance of the Bank’s sustainability footprints. “We aim this initiative at deepening the impact of innovation in the ecosystem and create an opportunity to drive that ecosystem. There is a plethora of start-ups and innovators out there who don’t have the right environment to upscale those ideas into commercial value”.

“What we have done is giving some seed to them in funding, and more importantly, we have given them advisory. We have helped them to look at the ideas they have, flesh them into commercial value, help them articulate the problem, identify unique areas where and how they can solve those problems, and identify their target market.”

The winning startups all expressed gratitude to Wema Bank for the seed fund and commended the bank for the initiative. They said the Hackathon Bootcamp has broadened their horizon. They expressed that the seed funding from Wema Bank will help to upscale their businesses to the desired place.

“For us at Wema Bank, this is not just CSR. It is creative self-disruption. We are attuned to what is going on in the ecosystem, we are keen to be part of it, we are enthusiastic about sharing our own experiences with the start-ups. It is part of why we stay vibrant and relevant as an organization,” Adeniyi concludes.

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Banking Sector

Heritage Bank Partners Road Transport Workers

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Heritage Bank in partnership with the Road Transport Employee’s Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) has launched the Travelers’ Accident Insurance Scheme (TAIS) to assist road accident victims across the country.

The scheme which was launched on Friday aims to address deaths associated with the inability of travelers involved in accidents to offset hospital bills.

The Regional Executive, Abuja, and North, Heritage Bank Plc, George Okoh-Oboh, while speaking at the launch of the scheme in Abuja, commended the thoughtfulness of the association in coming up with such a program to save the lives of accident victims.

He stated that the partnership would help address the road safety crisis due to the tragic loss from a road crash death or severe injury which was compounded by the harm to families, social networks, and national economies.

According to him, the majority of victims are part of the working-age population (between 15 and 64 years old). In fact, road crashes have become the #1 killer of the young worldwide.

He pledged the continued support of the bank in ensuring the success of the scheme.

Okoh-Oboh said, “At Heritage Bank, we believe in this project and we are ready to support it as it seeks to address accidents on the road.

“This project will save lives of many Nigerians, so we are not just here to see what comes in but we are here to add value and ensure that it succeeds.”

The National President of RTEAN, Musa Muhammed, in his remarks said the scheme aims at promoting the welfare of passengers while ensuring security for passengers’ property.

He explained that the scheme would provide support to passengers who may be involved in accidents at the course of their journeys.

“This scheme covers all Nigerians involved in accidents that require medical attention while on a road trip. This is part of an effort to assist and improve the Nigerians transport system,” he added.

According to him, the scheme will cover only parks owned and operated by members of the Road Transport Workers Association.

He further stressed the need for the government to deepen investments in road infrastructure while ensuring security along the major road.

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